The Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) is set to organize a public lecture on the effects of the sun on satellites and technology as well as human life and health.
The event, themed “the effects of space weather on Global Navigation satellite systems such as GPS and remote sensing applications,” comes off July 12, 2022, at the School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS) conference room at Kwabenya in Accra.
The public lecture, which forms part of a series of activities leading up to the official launch of GSSTI’s 10th-anniversary celebration, aims to assess and critically analyze the changing conditions of the sun and space, as well as their impact on the Global Positioning System (GPS), other navigation systems, technology, and human life, and to offer users and service providers mitigation measures.
The public lecture is expected to host the founding Director of the Centre for Space Science and Engineering Research and Professor at the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, Prof. Wayne A. Scales, as the guest speaker.
In a pre-lecture interview, the Deputy Director of GSSTI at GAEC, Dr. Joseph B. Tandoh, profiled Prof. Scales as an expert in remote sensing of the near-earth space environment from both ground-based and space-based platforms using advanced computational modeling, field measurements, and data analysis, among others.
According to Dr. Tandoh, the lecture will be an insightful discussion with relevant stakeholders about how changing conditions on the sun and in space can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning systems, intelligence gathering, and weather forecasting.
He also mentioned that the lecture will discuss how these conditions can cause modification of the ionosphere [Earth’s atmosphere densely packed with ions and free electrons that reflect radio waves], which reduces the precision of GPS.
“It is also worth noting that the sun is a dynamic system and that dynamics can and do affect us here on earth. For example, geomagnetic storms [a major disturbance of the earth’s magnet field caused by solar wind] can result in extremely high currents flowing through transformers and wires, which can disrupt power lines and even result in widespread power outages”, he explained.
“It is therefore important that we are well informed about these events in Space so that we can appreciate them and take the necessary precautions”, he added.
The coordinator of the public lecture and a research scientist at GSSTI, Dr Naomi Asabre Frimpong, explained that the sun’s influence, which has a direct connection to these devices and other equipment through the energy they emit, is sometimes to blame for mobile phone network disruptions rather than the service providers.
“Therefore, understanding these naturally occurring activities helps a lot, because remote sensing for instance that we use for viewing the earth from space to help in disaster management, town planning, crop monitoring, security, etc., can be disrupted by these activities”, she noted.
“Hence, this lecture will impart knowledge on the effects of space weather [activities on the sun and in space] on technology and human life and as well as potential mitigation measures”, she added.
Academics, research scientists, policymakers, telecommunications service providers, navigation system manufacturers, science students, and participants from all walks of life will attend the public lecture.