Zim satellite starts transmitting data

04 Jun, 2023 - 00:06 0 Views
Zim satellite starts transmitting data

Emmanuel Kafe

ZIMBABWE’S first earth-observation satellite, ZimSat-1, has started collecting data from space after undergoing successful orbital stabilisation.

The satellite, which is monitored from the Mazowe Earth Satellite Station, is now sending and receiving images of specific areas around Zimbabwe that can be used for various applications such as mineral exploration, environmental monitoring and crop health assessment.

Data from the satellite will aid in mapping human settlements, monitoring disease outbreaks and allowing for more precise weather forecasts.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) coordinator Mr Painos Gweme said the satellite is now fully operational and responding to commands from engineers on the ground.

“The satellite is mounted with a multi-spectral camera, therefore, the key information the satellite transmits are images of specific areas in Zimbabwe.

“The images are very useful and can be used for various applications, which include change detection of an area over time, crop health assessment, environmental monitoring (veld fire assessments, as well as deforestation and land degradation assessment),” he said.

Mr Gweme said each time the satellite passes over the country, the Mazowe Earth Satellite Station receives signal transmission or retransmission. At the command of engineers, he added, the station is receiving at least 120 small segments of a larger message, which are later converted to an image by software.

“Yes, the satellite is now functional. It is responding to all commands issued during every pass, be it uplink or downlink,” he said.

In satellite telecommunication, a downlink is a link from a satellite down to one or more ground stations or receivers. An uplink is a link from a ground station up to a satellite.

“Our engineers are issuing commands to downlink packets, and in every pass, the station is receiving 120 packets.

“These packets are then decoded using special software and converted into an image of a specific area.”

Packets are a small segment of a larger message in computer networking.

Mr Gweme said: “The satellite passes through Zimbabwe two to three times a day, depending on the angle of the pass. Then there are days when we will not be able to get it overhead Zimbabwe (about four days). ZimSat-1 is an earth-observation and data-transmission satellite equipped with a four-band multi-spectral optical imager, with spectral bands ranging from 550nm to 790nm.”

The imager is used for earth observation.

The satellite was launched on November 7, 2022 and released into orbit on December 2, 2022.

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