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Offline Ade Omo Ade

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Nigeria almost lose Second Satellite
« on: May 25, 2013, 04:51:10 PM »
Nigeria almost lose Second Satellite

MONTHS after the much-publicised handing over of NigComSat-1R, the replacement for Nigeria’s lost communication satellite, the nation’s fledgling Space Programme narrowly escaped a second setback – not once, but twice.

Dr. Siedu O. Mohammed, Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), told The Guardian that NigeriaSat-2—the newly launched earth observation satellite — had a nearly disastrous encounter with onrushing electrically charged particles. “Last December, and again early this year,” he revealed, in an exclusive interview, “phone calls woke me up, because a surging stream of high-speed charged particles was threatening our satellite. They were on a collision course with NigeriaSat-2, and were getting close.”

NASRDA’s engineers and scientists and their counterparts at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, in the U.K. put their heads together quickly, he said, and maneuvered the spacecraft to save it.

The proliferation of orbiting debris, such as dead satellites, tools and pieces of metal, has long been recognised as a space hazard. But the ejection of particles from the Sun’s corona, during violent eruptions called “solar flares,” can also damage or even destroy a satellite.

Consequently, Mohammed explained, NASRDA has established a new department to study space weather: “Space weather” being the generic term for conditions arising from natural changes in the operating environment of orbiting spacecraft.

The Director General announced, as well, that NASRDDA would create a “powerful Desk for Space Debris Monitoring,” to sensitise the media and the general public to the gravity of the problem and coordinate its effort to develop an effective monitoring programme.

Said Mohammed, “NASRDA is discussing with a number of countries, as potential collaborators. We’ve held talks with Russia, because they have a very strong space debris monitoring team.”

Space debris, he continued, poses a threat, not only to satellites but also to our own security, here on the ground.

South Africa and Sidney Australia have had near misses from falling metal; and there are frequent meteorite strikes within Nigeria’s borders.

“It has happened in Bauchi several times, as well as in Sokoto. Last year, an object from space also fell in Benue State. We can’t prevent small pieces of asteroid from bombarding us. But there are larger objects out there, whose movements need to be monitored continuously.”

Mohammed averred further that, when construction of the Nigerian Radio Telescope at Nsukka was completed, monitoring space debris would be among its main tasks.

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Nigeria almost lose Second Satellite
« on: May 25, 2013, 04:51:10 PM »


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