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Green Thursday - Satellites

iThursday, Jun 25th, 2015 comments by Barbara


Food security; urban planning and development; safety and security and support for disaster management are all areas that EO-Sat1 will influence in South Africa. EO-Sat1, a satellite currently being built by Denel, is said to be in operation by 2017/2018. [1]

How will a satellite like the EO-Sat1 influence South Africa? The information presented below gives some insight into what role EO-Sat1 will play in South Africa by drawing on knowledge from existing satellite infrastructure.

Food security

EO-Sat1 should be able to do similar operations like Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite , designed in Ohio. The SMAP can: [2]

  • Measure moisture in the earth’s soil
  • Produce maps depicting soil moisture levels
  • Monitor water
  • Monitor energy
  • Monitor carbon cycles
  • Improve weather forecasts
    • Drought prediction
    • Flooding predictions
  • Forecast crop yields in different areas (Help to detect the occurrence of famine)

 Urban planning and development

Satellites that are designed to assist the urban planning and development sector are used by planners, developers and engineers to name a few. The data that such satellites acquire can help such professionals map and develop new technologies to assist in land development. [3]

The construction industry benefits a lot from such satellites because they help evaluate and predict construction costs. Such information is invaluable to developers regardless of their budgets. The data acquired can also help developers assess their environmental impact in order to develop structures that are sustainable prior, during and after construction. [3]

Time-lapse Animation of Development of Palm Jumeirah Island, Dubai, UAE

December 2001 - October 2003 [3]

IKONOS (0.8m) Satellite Image

(Image Copyright © DigitalGlobe and processed by Satellite Imaging Corporation)

Safety and security and support for disaster management.

There are an umpteen amount of roles that satellites can play in the safety and security industry. As an example satellites can be deployed to secure sea activity. Long-range systems installed in satellites like EO-Sat1 should allow authorities to monitor a number of different ships passing through different seas simultaneously. Knowing what activities are taking place at sea is important to security authorities so that they can assess security risks that individual ships pose. By having this information readily at hand authorities can take necessary actions to mitigate high risk situations. [4]

Environmentally the satellites can help stop or track sea pollution caused by different ships.  This in return leads to the protection of marine life and helps nurture the environment for further generations. [4]

In the occurrence of search and rescue missions satellites can assist divers; rescue workers and agencies.  They can provide mobile communications in areas with poor coverage during rescue mission sand help locate debris. 


[1]Nicola Mawson, ITWeb news editor.. 2013. itweb. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 15]

[2] Ohio State University: College of Engineering. 2015. Buckeye engineers contribute to NASA’s groundbreaking soil moisture mapping satellite. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 15].

[3] satellite imaging corporation. 2001. Urban and Land Development Sa. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 15].

[4] 2013. UACES 43rd Annual Conference. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 15].


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