Nigeria: Two Satellites Launched for Disaster Management

News from Africa
By Staff Writer

ABUJA—Nigeria, on Wednesday, launched two observation satellites NigeriaSat2 and NigeriaSat-X into the orbit to be used for disaster management, with clear determination to firm up its drive towards technological advancement. President Goodluck Jonathan described the move as another milestone in his country’s effort to solve national problems through space technology.The satellites were put into orbit at Yashny in the Russian Federation. They will replace NigeriaSat-1, launched in 2003, which exceeded its lifespan of five years, but continues to operate. The replacement will ensure continuity of data and meet the local and international demand for high-resolution images.

The imaging satellites could have a variety of applications, including the monitoring of disaster-prone areas.

Nigerian territory stretches into Africa’s Sahel, a belt of land on the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe that experiences extreme weather conditions.

The Sahel goes through severe droughts in the dry season and devastating rainfall in the wet season. Floods last year displaced about 500,000 people nationwide, with most of them in the Sahel region.

Dr S O Mohammed, the head of Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), commented: “NigeriaSat-2 will significantly boost African capabilities for remote sensing applications, specifically for natural resource management.

“This high resolution satellite will also greatly enhance image data available to the Disaster Monitoring Constellation. Through a comprehensive training programme, Nigerian engineers have worked on the design and build of NigeriaSat-X, benefiting Nigeria’s growing space industry and inspiring development of new technologies.”

Built for a 7 year operational lifetime, NigeriaSat-2’s very high resolution imagery will see it acquiring and downlinking 20 times more data per day than its NigeriaSat-1 predecessor, providing large quantities of data for sale on the commercial market. It can be used for demography such as mapping and planning of population surveys, census enumeration areas, as well as mapping, planning and monitoring of rural and urban growth and to also give advance warnings of natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and storms.

Furthermore, NigeriaSat-2 can be used to avoid or manage any occurrence of man-made disasters like oil pollution, desertification, erosion, forest fire, and deforestation. In agriculture, it is used for mapping, land use planning, management of sustainable grazing, forest logging, planning afforestation programmes, crop inventory and yield forecast.

Both satellites were built at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, UK, under contract with the NASRDA. NigeriaSat-X was constructed through an SSTL training and development programme at SSTL in Guildford. In total, 26 Nigerian engineers participated in the project, working on the satellite for 18 months throughout the design and test phases. The NigeriaSat-X offers 22 m multi-spectral GSD across a 600 km swath width.