by Aly Jonas

An Earth observation satellite made in Ivory Coast

Un satellite d’observation de la Terre made in Côte d’Ivoire

The Ivorian nanosatellite will make it possible to monitor environmental damage and illegal activities and contribute to development planning.

The Ivory Coast announced his intention to launch its first satellite in the next two years. A team of scientists specializing in astrophysics and geology explains to The Conversation Africa the potential benefits of this advancement and how the country plans to realize its ambitions in the space sector.

What type of satellite is Ivory Coast planning to launch?

YAM-SAT-CI 01 will be a nanosatellite for Earth observation. A nanosatellite is a small satellite, weighing between 1kg and 10kg. It will be equipped with a camera capable of providing images of the country's coast, forests, natural parks and urban areas.

The construction of the satellite is entirely Ivorian. It was entrusted to Universal Konstructors Associated, a private Ivorian company promoting scientific and technological development, in partnership with the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Yamoussoukro.

This is the first step towards more sophisticated satellites and sensors that have many applications. For example, they can detect, monitor and map threats to national security, illegal immigration, deforestation, illegal gold mining activities, soil moisture and water tanks. They can help minimize the consequences of floods or droughts.

In Côte d'Ivoire, such a satellite could support government efforts to regulate artisanal mining and combat illegal activities and land degradation. the environment.

These applications rely on sophisticated image processing algorithms, including the use of artificial intelligence.

What are the other potential benefits and outcomes?

Earth observation provides data for agriculture, disaster management and urban planning. The satellite supports various applications, including monitoring health, vegetation, mapping water resources, and analyzing urban growth patterns.

Apart from the direct benefits of technology, it contributes to the scientific and economic development of the nation.

The project to build and launch a satellite is generally accompanied by capacity building in many sectors linked to the space industry. It involves engineers and scientists to develop sensors and the ground segment to track the satellite and communicate with it.

Other important benefits of these projects include wider use of space technology. The launch of a satellite can lead to increased use of Earth observation data and products, provided by the many satellites orbiting our planet.

Who will be involved in this project?

The academic and private sectors all have a role to play in this scientific, technical and political adventure.

For example, the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouet-Boigny has already planned to set up new courses in the field of space and aeronautics. A new generation of young engineers will directly benefit from it. Furthermore, an association Ivorian astronomy was launched. Its awareness-raising activities aimed at promoting astronomy and space sciences among the general public will help increase the scientific culture of the population. It will be able to inspire the younger generation to follow scientific careers.

Finally, the Félix Houphouët-Boigny University has a laboratory specializing in Earth observation from space: the University Center for Research and Application in Remote Sensing. Its students can also contribute to the design, mission strategy and applications of Ivorian satellites.

What are other African countries doing in terms of space technology?

THE space industry report in 2022 from consulting firm Space in Africa says the value of the industry in Africa is expected to reach $22.64 billion in 2026, up from $19.49 billion in 2021. The report says African nations have allocated 534, $9 million to space programs in 2022, up from $523.2 million in 2021. These investments indicate that Africa is preparing for wider use of space technology to address diverse challenges which she faces.

For example, on April 23, 2023, Kenya launched its first satellite, called Taifa-1, with the help of SpaceX. The satellite is equipped with an optical camera and is expected to provide agricultural and environmental monitoring data for Kenya.

In 2021, Tunisia threw its first 100% Tunisian satellite. Zimbabwe, Uganda, Egypt and Angola have also launched satellites in the past 12 months. In April 2023, President Macky Sall announced the launch of the Senegalese Space Studies Agency.

Egypt, the Nigeria and South Africa are the most advanced African countries on space issues. For example, ZACube, launched in December 2018, is a nanosatellite developed by the South African National Space Agency in collaboration with local universities. It focuses on maritime traffic safety in South African coastal waters.

Nigeria's National Space Research and Development Agency was established in 1999. It has launched five satellites since 2003.

In December 2022, Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African countries to sign the Artemis Accords, a NASA-led framework that defines best practices for sustainable space exploration.

It is clear that more and more African countries are investing in space technologies.

The first step is to raise awareness about space issues and the benefits of investing in space technologies. We need to start creating space-related training courses and promoting space science in African countries. The Conversation

David Baratoux, Geologist, Institute of Research for Development (IRD) ; Aziz Diaby Kassamba, Teacher-researcher in space physics, Félix Houphouët-Boigny University. Cocody, Ivory Coast ; Marc Harris Yao Fortune, Teacher-researcher, astrophysicist, Félix Houphouët-Boigny University. Cocody, Ivory Coast ; Marie Korsaga, Teacher-Researcher in physics chemistry, Joseph Ki-Zerbo University , and Pancrace Aka, Epistemologist, Historian of Sciences and Logician, Félix Houphouët-Boigny University. Cocody, Ivory Coast

This article is republished from The Conversation under Creative Commons license.