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Home Opinion BREAKTHROUGH: Space Technology, Innovation for Human Progress- Prof. M.K Othman
BREAKTHROUGH: Space Technology, Innovation for Human Progress- Prof. M.K Othman

BREAKTHROUGH: Space Technology, Innovation for Human Progress- Prof. M.K Othman

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One of the most amazing natural creations in planetary world is space, a region beyond the earth’s atmosphere or even beyond the solar system. Some of the contents of the space, billions of kilometers away from the earth are seen with naked eyes while millions of others are seen with the aid of telescopes and yet several others in billions are never seen. The wonders of nature, the Omnipotent perfect creation of the universe. Mysteries surrounding the space and its contents motivated the development of space science that give birth to space technology. Today, Space technology is referred to an aerospace industry for use in spaceflight, satellites, or space exploration. Thus, space technology includes spacecraft, satellites, space stations, and support infrastructure, equipment, and procedures. Space is a novel environment, which requires special tools and techniques for use to get the desire results. The use of these tools and procedures in space permits us to enjoy diversity of services for our advancement. These services include daily or periodic weather forecasting, remote sensing, GPS systems, satellite television, and some long-distance communications systems. These services critically rely on space infrastructure. Space technology has greatly influenced advancement of other sciences such as astronomy and Earth science through remote sensing technique. New technologies originating with or accelerated by space-related endeavors are often subsequently exploited in other economic activities. What are the advancements in space technology and their benefits to mankind?

Among all the four important segments of the space technology, satellite is most diverse with services affecting all parts of human endeavors. One may be aware of the use of satellite in television connectivity with different stations transmitting TV signals and telephone calls, and for satellite navigation systems used in some cars and airplanes. This is just a tip of the iceberg, there are varieties of services render by satellites. Satellites have studied oceans, the atmosphere, clouds, weather, rain forests, deserts, cities, farmlands, ice sheets, and just about everything else on and even in Earth. Using information from satellites, we study and understand how pollution from cars, factories, and even household products affects the atmosphere. Example, it was through satellite that certain kinds of air pollution are found to be destroying the ozone layer in the atmosphere, which is responsible for the protection of living things from harmful ultraviolet rays from sun. This means that we must find and use alternative chemicals that are less damaging to the atmosphere and can protect the ozone layer. This brings the issue of greenhouse emission, global warming and the strategy to reduce the ozone layer from disappearing. Another very important use of satellite is in the area of weather prediction. Over the years, some dangerous weather conditions were precisely predicted; GOAES East (satellite) viewed Hurricane Isabel forming in the mid-Atlantic. Thus, the two GOES satellites, stationed high over the east and west coasts of the United States track hurricanes and other storms as they develop and send information to the earth for mitigation measures. This enable us to view from space the warning of dangerous weather condition to prepare us and even evacuate vulnerable areas where a hurricane might pass through. The use of satellites to predict the weather will not change its condition, but the knowledge ahead of time provide us time and chance to make adequate preparation to mitigate its likely negative effects.

In a similar vein, there are other two important satellites, TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 that continuously study the happenings in the oceans across the earth. They are being used to study and provide us with information on the complex movements of oceanic water and enable long-term weather predictions. Oceanic natural and man-made activities are the major direct cause of weather variations. This is because the oceans receive energy through sunlight and store a lot of heat, which has great effect on the weather dissimilarities. The two satellites (TOPEX and Jason-1) periodically observe an event known as “El Niño”, in which unusually warm water collects in the Pacific Ocean near South America causes very heavy rain in some parts of the world and drought in others with precise predictions of times and places where such events are to happen. Without these satellites, these predictions couldn’t have been possible. Again, there are certain remote parts on Earth that cannot be monitored without using space (satellite) technology. Similarly, Recent and past satellite images of a rainforest enable us to study how fast forests and other precious habitats are disappearing.

Views from space of the North and South Poles allow us to monitor the shrinking of ice sheets, which are important indicators of global warming and possible flooding of coastal regions. In fact, some satellites have instruments that can measure the height and thickness of clouds and how much water they contain or can reveal important information such as the height of the oceans all over Earth, or the wind speed inside clouds or even distinguish between different types of trees in the forest and show where trees might be diseased or not. Yes, there are several and unaccountable usages of satellite, which is one of the major components of space technology.

Today, the roles of satellite technology in communication industry have made it advance exponentially and imperatively. Global crave for Communication services has made satellite industry to experience consistent positive growth in recent years. According to the Satellite Industry Association, the satellite technology sector as a whole showed a positive growth of late.  Three years ago, global revenues rose by 2 percent to reach $260.5 billion in 2016. Out of this revenue, USA alone accounted for 44 percent of market share in global satellite sector revenues ($110.3 billion).

 

Expansion was fueled largely by ground equipment and launch services, which respectively rose to 7 percent and 2 percent in 2016, respectively. Satellite services also grew by 0.2 percent. By end of this year (2019), the growth is expected to increase as Satellites is heading toward the consumer marketplace; the services are more widely available and accessible to billions of people especially in developing nations.  Another reason for the increase of revenue of satellite services is the integration of “Built-in digital payload verification”. Modern satellites often carry digital payloads with the components necessary to send and receive information at ranges that were unthinkable ten years ago, regardless of environmental impedance like canopy forests or mountains. Boeing upped the ante on payload technology in 2017 when it developed testing systems built directly into the bodies of satellites. This advancement eliminates the need for prelaunch testing and thus, save considerable time and money. The vessels containing this feature, 03b mPOWER satellites, were launched in September 2017.

Advances in satellite technology are linearly increasing especially in the broadcast industry. The industry is increasingly faced with high demand for greater bandwidth as a result of higher image resolution (UltraHD), superior color accuracy (HDR) and immersive sound. The “Internet of Things (IoT) is progressively swelling the number of connectivity per household. Statista (www.statista.com), a ‘Global Business data platform’ estimated 15 billion IoT-connected devices in 2015; 23 billion this year; and over 75 billion by 2025. On the average, Intel’s estimation indicates that “there will be 50 connected devices per home by 2020” globally.

As the prediction of future demands of Satellite services are being made, the satellite operators are already gearing up for a future awash with bits. One of such operators is Newtec, a privately giant satellite operator, which recently (on 3rd of October 2019) integrated with another giant operator ST Engineering iDirect to create the most advance satellite ground capabilities. Last year, Newtec launched their highly publicized satellite; MDM5010 satellite modem, which made Arabsat signing up immediately. This satellite modem has a variety of Newtec’s DVB-S2X wideband with new high throughput satellite services including enterprise and VNO services, IP trunking and mobile backhaul for 3G and 4G services. The modem is capable of handling more than 500 Mbps of traffic that can permit setting up almost any type and size of network. Where is the place of Africa in all these cutthroat competition? To be completed next week with spacecraft and space station

 

 

 

 

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