South African National Space Agency [SANSA]

South Africa



SANSA is mandated by the SANSA Act, 36 of 2008, to promote the peaceful use of space, foster international cooperation in space-related activities and create an environment conducive to industrial development in space technology through research, human capital development, outreach programmes and infrastructure development.
SANSA was launched in December 2010 and has been in operation since 1 April 2011. The successful migration of CSIR Satellite Applications Centre and NRF Hermanus Magnetic Observatory into SANSA heralded a new era for space science and technology in South Africa. SANSA builds on the extensive experience and ensures Earth observation applications with direct societal benefits are prioritised.

Main tasks:

Lead of WP5

SANSA is an active participant in the GEONetCab project and participates in many other activities related to Earth observation. SANSA is also very active in GEO. Although recently established, SANSA originates from CSIR and thus has a long tradition in scientific research and valorisation of scientific results.

Staff Members:

  • Dr Paidamwoyo Mangara is the Research and Application Development Manager in SANSA Earth Observation directorate and holds a doctorate in remote sensing. He has published several journal and conferences papers in remote sensing and got extensive project management experience. Dr Mangara has managed a number of international collaborative research and human capital development projects such as AMESD, Garnet-e and TIGER Projects. Dr Mangara leads a number of Earth observation initiatives in SANSA that are directed towards maximizing the benefit of Earth observation to society. In SANSA, Dr Mangara has established a number of successful research partnerships with international institutions in Earth observation. Paida has lectured remote sensing and geographical information systems courses to both undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Zimbabwe and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. At the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Mangara was the coordinator for the postgraduate programme in geo-informatics. He plays a proactive role in advancing human capital development in South African universities and has presented at several workshops, conferences and public lectures. Paida was the remote sensing chairman at the South Africa-Germany Year of Science Symposium and SA-GEO symposium and proactively contributes the Group of Earth Observation (GEO) activities in South Africa.
  • Dan Matsapola has extensive Earth observation networking experience in the SADC region gained through several platforms like GEO, CEOS, AMESD and FP7 GEONETCAB project. He studied physics and mathematics for his Bachelor’s degree at University of Limpopo (UL) and completed his physics honours at UL in 1999. He completed his Post-Graduate Diploma in Satellite Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch and worked at the OTB satellite ground station receiving LEO satellites including TERRA MODIS until 2008 when he joined the CSIR CEOS Secretariat during CSIR’s chairing of CEOS. He has been championing “data democracy legacy project” in Africa and has used the AMESD SADC THEMA as the platform to extend the flagship “Fundisa disc” targeted at South African universities to SADC Earth observation users. Dan has completed the Distance Course in Remote Sensing, GIS and GEONETCAST from ITC in 2010 funded by the AMESD SADC THEMA and is contributing to GEO work plan and CEOS Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy. He has managed the database and monitoring phase of the NW ISUP project using Spot 5 data to spatially locate and monitor the growth of informal settlements in the North West province of South Africa.
  • Andiswa Mlisa is an expert in Earth observation. She studied geology, computer science and GIS for her Bachelors degree at Fort Hare University, and has subsequently specialised in GIS and Remote Sensing. She has recently received her MSc from the University of Stellenbosch, where her thesis topic was on the development of spatial decision support systems for multi-disciplinary projects. Her particular interest is in using EO techniques for geological, groundwater and environmental studies, mineral exploration and for vulnerability mapping. She has managed GIS or EO projects since 2002 and groundwater exploration and supply projects since 2004. She participated in the international GEO Capacity Building Committee and has become the Chairperson of the South African GEO Capacity Building Committee, facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). In this role she facilitates education in EO skills in South Africa. She lectures on Remote Sensing and GIS application for groundwater and mineral exploration, to post-graduate students at the Universities of Cape Town and Fort Hare.
  • Dr Nichola Knox, is a senior scientist within the Earth Observation Division at SANSA.  She obtained her doctoral degree in environmental remote sensing from ITC at the University of Twente.  Nicky’s research has been published in international peer reviewed journals and presented at both local and international forums.  Within SANSA-EO Nicky heads up the Human Capital Development program organising, developing and delivering remote sensing training throughout the country.  These training events target undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals.  Nicky is a co-chair on both the National Agricultural and Education Community of Practices promoting and stimulating the use of Earth Observation in these sectors.  Internationally Dr Knox is actively involved in the JECAM, GEOGLAM, and CEOS WGCapD.

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