Africa’s first private satellite was launched in May 2017, to observe the continent’s weather pattern shifts. The monumental achievement had formed part of a high-school science, technology, engineering and mathematics boot camp (STEM). 14 of South Africa’s brightest teenage girls set their names in the global record books by building the satellite and its components.
South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organisation (MEDO) purchased the satellite as part of the project. Satellite Engineers from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) trained the students who would be working on the ‘real deal’. Covering everything from the mathematical calculations, to the study of materials and chemical reactions, the team worked together to achieve one of Africa’s greatest milestones of the 21st century.
The satellite is expected to orbit over both poles, and in the process it will scan the surface of the African continent. The route and timing of the device will permit thermal imaging data to be collected twice every day. The context of the study, in particular, is to assist African communities with disaster relief, by aiming to predict droughts, dry spells, imminent floods and more. If these occurrences can be foreseen through weather patterns, food security may be easier to provide for those in need.
“We can try to determine and predict the problems Africa will be facing in the future. Where our food is growing, where we can plant more trees and vegetation and also how we can monitor remote areas … We have a lot of forest fires and floods but we don’t always get out there in time.” – B. Bull (Student, Pelican Park High School)
Prior to this, the students were involved in programming and launching small cricket satellites. Their hope is that achieving this monumental feat will inspire other African female students to tackle the technological world head-on. Share this article if you feel inspired, or want to motivate a young female learner toward greatness.