Nigeria has newly launch two satellites into space, NigSat-2 and NigSat-X. However, its imperative to briefly review what satellite is and the Nigerian experience. A satellite is an artificial body placed in orbit around the earth or another planet in order to collect information and for communication.
Generally, it is an object that moves around a larger object. However, as it is used generally it refers to man-made satellites which are machines launched into space and orbit earth. There are several satellites, some take pictures of the earth while others focus on other planets, the sun and other objects. These pictures help scientists learn about the earth, the solar system and the universe. It should be noted that there are other satellites which are for the purpose of telecommunication.
They are called Communication Satellites (abbreviated COMSAT), and they allow radio, television and telephone transmission to be sent live anywhere in the world. Satellites come in many shapes and sizes. But most have at least two parts in common – an antenna and a power source. The antenna is used to send and receive information. The power source can be a solar panel or battery. Since the first launch of satellite into space by the Soviet Union called Sputnik I in 1957, the importance of satellite has gradually become a venture by different government and private entities.
Satellites are placed into orbits around the earth and there are 3 major one.
- Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO)
- Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)
- Low Earth Orbits (LEO)
Majority of artificial satellites are placed in LEO, where they travel at about 7. 8km/S (28,080 km/h) making one complete revolution around the earth in about 90 minutes. However many communication satellites require the GEO and move at the same angular velocity as the earth. Also most earth observation satellite take advantage of sun-synchronous LEO orbits at an altitude of about 800km and near polar inclination. These kinds of satellites can also be remote sensing satellites.
THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE
The first satellite launched by Nigeria is the Nigsat1. NigSat-1 was launched on 26 September 2003 into the orbit in Plestek Russia after some experts have undergone training at Surrey Satellite Technology in London (Boroffue, 2004). NigeriaSat 1 is a sun-synchronous orbit satellite in the LEO orbit, which is one of the five disaster monitoring satellites that form a network called the Disaster Monitoring Constellation and by so will share information with each other when disaster monitoring is needed.
NigSat-1 was expected to have a five year life-span, however, it was still reported that it captured images of the earth early in the year. After this, NigComSat 1 was launched on 13 May 2007 by China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIL) on a carrier rocket, long March 3-8 blasted from Xichang Satellite launch center in South-West China’s Sichnan Province in China. However the satellite that was supposed to live for 15 years packed up in 18 months after running out of power due to an anormally in its solar array.
NIGERSAT-1 AND NIGERIA-X
Now to the recently launched satellites, the NigSat-1 and NigSat-X was successfully launched on the 17th day of August 2011 at 07:12:20 UTC (exactly 8:12am local time) on board a Dnepr rocket from yassay in Southern Russia. Both satellites are highly advanced earth observation satellites and were designed and built in Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford, UK. However, what is interesting is that NigeriaSat-X was solely built by Nigerian engineers, 26 in number, who were trained in SSTL.
SSTL Executive Chairman, Sir Martin Sweeting commended: “NIgeriaSat-x is a product of Nigeria’s training and development programme here at survey. ” Credit is given the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and their engineers that this satellites are performing well and operations are progressing so quickly. Information gathered reveal that NigeriaSat-2 is one of the most advanced Earth observation small satellites launched and will provide high-resolution (2. 5 metres images and because of the images are pandromatic they are exposed in the visible light (in the wavelength region between 0. (m and 0. 7(m).
Among the existing systems). Nigeria Sat-2 compares with system. Probatoire d’observation de la Terre (SPOT), which in panchromatic mode has ground resolution cell of 10m x 10m and in the multispectal mode, the ground resolution cell is 20m x 20m with images acquired from an orbital altitude of 832km to produce a ground swath width of 60km, or 117km (because of 3km side lap) when two Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system are used. The NigSat-2 also operates an along-track scanner (push-broom) thus allowing increased dwell time that subsequently results in finer spatial and spectral resolution.
The NigSat-2 after its commissioning will be the most advanced satellite of its kind in the global community” said Mr. Felix Ale, Head, Media and Corporate Affairs of the NASDA. The two satellites, Nigsat-2 and Nigsat-x as said earlier are highly advanced Earth observation satellite which is of immense benefit and significance to Nigeria in particular and to Africa and the world at large. The proper use of this satellite can affect virtually every sphere of our national lives like the economy, agriculture, security, disaster management, the meterology and so on.
Economically, these satellites will help in the proper management of natural resources like oil, solid mineral resources. This borders on matter of location, measurement of amount and quality in different locations, management of its pollution and so on. So the exploration of the resources can be better informed. Also revenue can be generated from satellite services supplied to other nations and corporate entities who do not have their own satellite and falls under the area covered by the NigSat 2 and NigSat X satellites. Infact information service can become a product that is tradeable.
Also, a space engineering division of the Nigerian Stock Exchange has been inaugurated and has the support of the Federal Government. This is a good sign that space technology in Nigeria has come of age and it is perceived as an economy booster. Politically, the operations of this satellites will foster international (diplomatic) relationship and alliance. This is possible as the satellite will settle potential boundary issues among nations under its coverage with clear images on nations maps and coastlines. It will also help the government in policy formulation and implementation since demography will be made easier.
There will be ease in mapping and planning of population survey, census enumeration areas, mapping, planning and monitoring of rural and urban growth and land use planning. These satellites will also better the agricultural sector in forestry, land use, water resources management, management of sustainable gazing, forest logging, planning affrorestation programmes, crop inventory and yield forecast. For disaster management, the NigSat 2 and NigSat-X wil be very useful and significant as it will give advanced warning of natural disasters like floods, earthquake, volcanic eruptions and storms.
So in short it will aid environmental and disaster monitoring, mitigation and management. These newly launched satellites will help in many other areas including education, addressing issues of air pollution and energy as well as transportation. However, these applications still look vague owing to the fact that education and capacity building initiatives have not been encouraged to develop the requisite human capacity to support activities of National Space Agencies in the country, which includes development of space applications, products and services.
However, with the launch of these two satellites, our decision makers and policy makers should be able to set up Space Aid resources which could be delivered by the media-Web TV, Mobile, radio, prints, that includes availability of space-based products-remote sensing, mapping, geo-datas, geo-links and databases, satellite imageries, pre and post-disaster imageries, and early warning systems.