INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: South Africa Inaugurates Receiving Station For

Published: Tue 27 Jul 2004 02:59 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS PRETORIA 003391
SIPDIS
STATE FOR AF/S, AF/EPS, OES/STC/JROTTIER, OES/PCI/ESHAW
STATE ALSO FOR OES/EGC/SYOFFE, IO/LROEDER
USDOC FOR NOAA/OIA
USDA FOR FAS/C/PECAD/CURT REYNOLDS
DEPT PLEASE PASS USAID FOR DCHA/FFP/PTD/WWHELAN, DWELLER
DEPT PLEASE PASS NASA/OFFICE OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS
DEPT PLEASE PASS NSF FOR ELYONS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR TBIO KSCA OSCI SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA INAUGURATES RECEIVING STATION FOR
EARTH OBSERVING SATELLITES
1. Summary. The recent launch of earth observing
satellite reception capability at South Africa's
Satellite Applications Center (SAC) extends and enhances
ongoing efforts to apply satellite-based information to
support agriculture, food security, and disaster
management and mitigation efforts. The SAC has, and
continues to expand good working relationships with USG
agencies and academic institutions. End summary.
2. On Tuesday, July 20, Deputy Minister for Agriculture
and Land Affairs Dirk du Toit presided over the launch
of reception capability of two earth observing satellite
systems, the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectro
radiometer (MODIS) and Landsat imagery, at South
Africa's Satellite Application Center (SAC) in
Hartebeeshoek, outside Pretoria. The MODIS system is a
new generation of satellite sensors developed by NASA to
monitor land, ocean and atmospheric processes.
According to the Council on Scientific and Industrial
Research, this is the first MODIS direct broadcast
receiving station in Africa.
3. Since 2000, the National Department of Agriculture
(NDA) has underwritten the R 12 million (currently USD 2
million) procurement of a MODIS receiving and processing
system, based on useful MODIS applications for the
agricultural sector, namely information on food
security, crop yield monitoring, grazing capacity, and
land degradation. MODIS also provides information on
global change, disaster management and disaster
mitigation. The South African government plans to make
satellite imagery data freely available to SADC
governments, research organizations and non-governmental
organizations.
4. The SAC has developed specialized applications based
on MODIS images, in particular, a fire warning service
that is expected to benefit the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) region. Phillip Frost, the
SAC remote sensing specialist most involved in MODIS and
related applications and activities, told EST Officer
that the SAC has worked with the U.S. Geological Survey
and NASA to install required software for a rapid
response system for "near real-time" fire detection in
SADC. SAC then developed a system of real-time alerts
through e-mail and cellular phone text messages when
fires break out near any installation of Eskom, the
national electricity supplier. SAC hopes to market this
innovative system at an upcoming international
conference of electric power companies.
5. According to Frost, SAC also has an excellent working
relationship with the University of Maryland and NASA on
the Southern African Fire Network (SAFNET) and Global
Observation of Forest Cover Fire. SAC was recently
chosen as a fourth partner for algorithm development for
NASA's Direct Broadcast Bidirectional Reflection
Distribution Function (BRDF) Proposal, joining
Australia, China and Utah Forestry Services. SAC will
work closely with Boston University's Dr. Crystal Schaaf
on this project.
HUME
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