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Space and Development…Increasing Access to Space in Africa

Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

African Space Round-Up

Posted by Simon Adebola on November 2, 2010

The African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) held its 8th International meeting last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The week long event held from the 25-29 October 2010. It explored themes around the applications of Earth Observation for Africa’s development agenda. More info here

The Group on Earth Observation would commence its seventh plenary session immediately followed by its ministerial summit, this week in Beijing, China. The events would hold respectively on the 3rd-4th and on the 5th of November 2010. Key issues about the GEO tasks and workplan would be discussed among others. GEO membership is currently made up of 84 member states and the European Commission. There are 21 African member states with Gabon being the most recent addition. The plenary and summit programme is available here

NASA sends terrabytes of data to African environmental scientists. Read more here

Posted in Africa, NASA, News, Space, Space science and technology | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Landscape Ecology: The Use of Space Imagery Off Namibia’s Coast

Posted by Simon Adebola on April 12, 2010

This article from the NASA Earth Observatory explains how the emission of hydrogen sulphide along the continental shelf off the Namibian coast can be viewed from space. It also shows the interactions between these emissions and other factors in the biosphere. The emissions follow a mix of ocean currents, geophysical dynamics, biological and chemical interplays. These however bear on the marine life in the vicinity of these emissions. Their effects, both positive and negative, are also felt far inland.

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) captures hydrogen sulphide emissions along the Namibian coast (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

Africa’s oceans hold huge potential for the continent. Its rich ecosystems with huge stores of biodiversity treasures all count as valuable knowledge resources for the continent. It remains to be seen however how much of the continent’s wide ocean expanse would be conservatively harnessed to bring economic benefits while preserving its unique heritage.

Click here to learn more on the use of earth observation in biodiversity and ecosystems.

More images and articles (click on the images):

NASA Image of Namibian Coast

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Launching the ‘African Heritage From Space’ Series: Namib Desert (AHFSS 1)

Posted by Simon Adebola on February 18, 2010

Africa is blessed with a rich social, moral and cultural heritage, there is no doubt about that. The land is also rich in bountiful stores of natural resources. It’s people however are its greatest assets and these have made their mark not only on the continent but indeed all over the globe and even in space exploration. That is Africa.

Of particular significance though, is the uniqueness and beauty of Africa’s geophysical structure. It’s breathtaking landscapes, lush greenery, magnificent forests, cascading waterfalls, gorgeous hills and mountains, “proud ancestral savannas”, and seering yet awestriking deserts, are some of the features that have made Africa the prime allure of explorers, the daring and adventurous for centuries.

The Group on Earth Observation (GEO) lists ecosystems and biodiversity as two of its themes and societal benefit areas. Space technologies can play a major role in supporting efforts at conserving the state of our environment. These efforts thus need to be augmented through the use of earth observation and other space capabilities in environmental monitoring and conservation. There is an increasing role to be played by the integration of technologies in development aims because they offer boundless opportunities to optimize resources and increase efficiency.

The ‘African Heritage from Space Series’ is being launched to connect these potentials of space technology to the God-given magnificence of Africa’s ecosystems and entire landscape. This will showcase the varied scenes of beauty that exist in different parts of the continent as seen through the eyes of space-borne instruments. Furthermore, like apples of gold in settings of silver, each image would be set within the context of what is and what could be.

The first image in this series is of the Namibian Desert and it was taken by an astronaut on Expedition 22 on the International Space Station (ISS). It is made available through the NASA Earth Observatory.

Tsauchab River and Sossus Vlei Lakebed, Namibia (NASA)

The Namibian desert extends for about 81,000 sq. km. and it is from this Namib (Nama for vast) desert that the country of Namibia gets its name. The driest desert in Africa and the oldest in the world, this richest of sources for diamonds captivates endlessly with its awestriking dunes that remind one of the Martian landscape. It has a unique blend of animal and plant varieties that make up its ecosystem. One of the most popular of these is the Welwitschia mirabilis with its single pair of leaves, existing in an order of its own. See a video of the desert and its enchanting features below.

The desert has long inspired paintings, photographs, poems, historical writings and other works of art. It has also had its fair share of scientific study. The sand dunes pictured in this image are the tallest in the world, reaching up to a height of 300 metres above river bottom. The desert however is one of the world’s driest and the future of its species, though rugged, is a concern for conservationists and environmental biologists. It is also a location for mining ventures which together with farming, if not carefully monitored, could further pose a challenge to its ecostability. It is a coastal desert that is gradually encroaching westward to reclaim land from the ocean.

You can explore the area further here

Posted in Africa, Development, Drought, Earth observation, Education, NASA, Satellites, Science, Southern Africa, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Africa, Solar Power and Space Technologies 2

Posted by Simon Adebola on February 11, 2010

In the quest for renewable energy solutions that could serve to meet the world’s energy needs in a cost-effective way, there are many options that are being proposed. Some of these options are quite interesting, a number are ingenious and laughable, and yet some border on the fringe of the bizarre, and on being outright outrageous.

One particular example of alternative energy solutions that holds huge potential for the many parts of Africa with many sunny days in a year is the PS 10 in Sanlucar le Mayor, 25km west of Seville, Spain. It is the world’s first commercial tower technology solar thermoelectric power plant. See the video below.

The search for appropriate locations to derive maiximum yield from solar energy has led some to consider the possibility of moving beyond the earth’s surface, above it’s immdiate atmosphere, and into the vastness of space to tap this abundant resource. The case for Space-Based Solar Power(SPSP) or Space Solar Power (SSP), as it is called, is made by those who seek to overcome the huge loss of solar energy that occurs as radiation from the sun loses it’s value as it passes through the earth’s atmosphere to reach its surface where most solar panels exist. Moreso, unlike solar panels on earth which are subject to meteorological and day/night changes, a satellite in space bearing a solar panel can have uninterrupted reception of solar energy for conversion to electricity and onward transmission to the Earth’s surface. This idea has been a subject of intensive research by a number of developed nations who predict drastic energy shortages and seek to augment current energy supply means with power gathered from space. This energy can then be beamed back to earth solving the power generation and transmission questions by systematically splitting transmission into sending (from space) and receiving (on ground) components. They can then use existing distribution networks.

Does this approach hold any special benefit for Africa? Are there equally efficient options on the continent? Are current and potential energy shortages faced by the continent due to a dearth of energy sources or lack of utilization of existing energy sources? Does Africa have the potential of supplying power to other continents? Whose responsibility is it to make Africa energy self-sufficient and even commercially capable in supplying other states?

If in spite of the abundance of solar energy sources in Africa, people prefer to invest in going all the way to space, a technology solution that is probably 5 decades away from being deployable on a commercially feasible scale, then that should point to the fact that Africa in many ways has the primary responsibility to invest in and develop its own viable energy sources. This may be their solution to generating in Africa and transmitting to Europe, Asia or America. The problem with this option is that the risk of failure is high compared to the incurred investment especially since the technologies have been untested on the scale that it would take to make economic sense. However their efforts in conceptualising and developing new technologies to adapt to future change is commendable, and that should be emulated across Africa. Africa needs a breed of forward-looking engineers, entrepreneurs and social policy makers to help it cope with the needs of the present and the challenges of its future. The lesson there is probably not that some are willing to try something crazy rather than come to invest in Africa, but that we had better get the message that the rest of the world will not wait for Africa to solve its own problems.

Posted in Africa, Development, Education, Innovation, Satellites, Science, Southern Africa, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Africa, Solar Power and Space Technologies 1

Posted by Simon Adebola on February 11, 2010

The provision of alternative energy sources to drive the machines of development in Africa, and indeed globally, is a major issue. This is further heightened by the scientific and economic possibilities that surround the commercial deployment of new technologies that use renewable energy sources as alternatives to coal and petroleum. Governments, research institutions, and private entities alike have all embarked on quests to discover, develop, and deploy efficient and renewable energy solutions.

Darling Wind Farm, South Africa. (Source: BBC News Africa)

The growth of carbon-efficient technologies has helped to fuse considerations such as cost-effectiveness and environmental impact into the primary concern of technical feasibility. Some of the options being explored include wind, hydroelectric energy, biomass, and solar energy.

In spite of its having a rich abundance of each of these energy sources, Africa still reels under the lack of energy to drive development and economic growth. This is largely because technological and organisational know-how is needed to exploit these options and most parts of the continent still fall behind in this aspect.

Africa stands at a particular advantage with respect to solar energy. The development and commercial exploitation of this resource should have long been a priority of many African governments. The space programme has long relied on solar energy to drive its exploratory missions.

SMART-1, ESA’s technology demonstration satellite to the moon, used highly efficient solar power solutions to accomplish new technological feats. See a video of SMART-1.

There are many lessons to be learned here by countries seeking to profit from the utilisation of solar energy. The hardening of spacecraft components to help them cope with the harsh extremes of the space environment can be adapted to improve the effiency of solar energy hardware deployed in desert-like conditions. Deserts are notorious for their very hot days and extremely cold nights. Hardening helps technologies deployed in harsh environments to stay efficient and deliver for much longer. If man can successfully deploy structures like the International Space Station’s solar array wings to provide consistent power supply for man’s presence in space, then nothing stops Africans from repeating something that does not come near that as a technological feat.

International Space Station showing solar arrays (Source: NASA)

Profitable exploitation of solar power is possible and needed in Africa. The technologies are available, what is needed is the political will and economic sense to drive its successful implementation. Some people are already making efforts in this direction.

A graduate of the International Space University, Ayodele Faiyetole, believes in the potential and impact of solar power. He is overcoming the resistance of his environment to deliver voltage and light to communities hitherto enshrouded in darkness and ignorance of the possibilities that the sunlight around them can bring. He recently received the Todd B. Hawley Space Visionary Award for his achievements. Read more about him here

Solar panels and solar energy options have advanced in the last few decades and the field is still growing. This is a key area where Africa can make its mark and pull its people out of darkness to light.

Posted in Africa, Development, Innovation, NASA, Satellites, Science, Southern Africa, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

African Resource Management Satellite (ARMC) Constellation

Posted by Simon Adebola on December 21, 2009

The African Resource Management Constellation (ARMC), a collaboration currently involving Nigeria, South Africa Kenya, and Algeria. Initially conceived around 2004, when it was named the African Resource and Environmental Management Satellite Constellation, the initiative was meant to develop a constellation of satellites to provide real time, unrestricted and affordable access to satellite data to support effective environmental and resource management in Africa. Three meetings held in May 2005 in Algeria, September 2005 in Stellenbosch, RSA, and November 2005 in Abuja, Nigeria, demonstrated the commitment and momentum at the early stages of the project. During this period, a steering committee was formed and a plan of action developed to move the process forward. Other workshops held in Algeria in 2006, Pretoria, RSA in 2007 and in Kenya in 2008. These with the international awareness generated by the initiative, all helped to lay a good foundation for its success. The space agreement on the African Resources Management Satellite Constellation (ARMC), which is a Memorandum of Understanding between the partners, was signed by the governments of the four countries on the 7th of December 2009 during the Third African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development that held in Algiers, Algeria.

Signing of the ARMC Space Agreement, 7th December 2009 in Algiers, Algeria (Source: Algerian Space Agency)

As proposed, the constellation would help provide easy access to satellite data for end users in the following fields: disaster management, food security, public health, infrastructure, land use, and water resource management. It would thus support activities such as urban development, land use monitoring, and mapping for the surveillance of climate change effects. A constellation design was adopted that would have each satellite equipped with a 2.5m resolution panchromatic imager and a 5m resolution multispectral imager in 6 multispectral bands. Data from these identical satellites would be gotten through an integrated ground station. From the ground station, efforts would be made to ensure that the satellite data reach the end users all over the continent, as close to real time as possible.The program would also include capacity building initiatives and the development of low-cost multi-source ground receiving stations to aid the less privileged countries who can gain access through these stations to remote sensing and meteorological satellite data.

Algeria launched its first satellite, Alsat 1 in 2002 as part of the UK-led Disaster Management Constellation (DMC) programme. Nigeria launched its own first satellite in 2003 under the DMC programme. Both satellites were constructed by the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, Guildford, United Kingdom. Nigeria, with Chinese support, also launched, the now failed, Nigcomsat-1 in May 2007. South Africa launched Africa’s first satellite (SunSat 1) built by the University of Stellenbosch, in February 1999. This last September it launched its second satellite, the Sumbandila Sat, aboard a Russian rocket. Although, Kenya inherited offshore launch facilities (San Marco launch platform) from the Italian space programme, it has no satellite of its own.

Posted in Africa, Climate change, Development, Disaster management, Earth observation, Humanitarian emergencies, Satellites, Science, Southern Africa, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Third African Leadership Conference Launches Two Regional Space Partnerships

Posted by Simon Adebola on December 19, 2009

(This information is from the United Nations Information Service Vienna Press release available here. You can also subscribe to the UN SPIDER mailing list here)

VIENNA, 7 December (UN Information Service) – The third African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development opened today, on 7 December 2009, in Algiers with a signing ceremony of two regional space partnerships. Hosted by the Algerian Space Agency and co-sponsored by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) the Conference will promote the use of space tools towards achieving Africa’s sustainable development.

To support African efforts in disaster management by means of space-based technologies, the Algerian Space Agency and UNOOSA signed a cooperation agreement to establish a regional support office for the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), a programme implemented by UNOOSA. Space tools have been vital in mitigating the loss of lives and property in times of disaster. In that context, the head of UNOOSA’s delegation, Niklas Hedman, told conference participants that “today a large number of global and regional mechanisms and initiatives exist to support Member States in implementing the use of space tools and solutions.” With regard to UN-SPIDER’s work in forming a network of regional support offices in Africa, he noted that “UN-SPIDER already has a productive working relationship with the Algerian Space Agency”, the most recent example of which was the provision of expert services by the Agency for a UN-SPIDER technical advisory mission to Burkina Faso.

Another regional space partnership was sealed today among the Governments of Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, who signed an agreement on African Resources Management satellite constellation, a regional initiative that aims to develop a network of satellites to make space technology more accessible to end-users in areas such as food security, environmental monitoring, land use, water management and public health. The Algerian Minister for Post and Information Technologies and Communication, Hamid Bessalah, described the all-African satellite constellation as “a great cooperation” between the four countries, which “will facilitate space data for African countries”.

The third African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology for Sustainable Development will continue its deliberations on increasing space benefits for Africa’s sustainable development until Wednesday, 9 December 2009.

* *** *

For further information, please contact:

Jamshid Gaziyev
Associate Programme Officer, UNOOSA
Telephone: (+43-699) 1459-7251
Email: jamshid.gaziyev@unoosa.org
Internet: http://www.unoosa.org

Posted in Africa, Development, Disaster management, Earth observation, Humanitarian emergencies, Satellites, Southern Africa, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dust and Droughts in Africa

Posted by Simon Adebola on August 20, 2009

The plight of African farming and the need to develop adaptive systems to cope with the changes that may be forced on African populations due to environmental change has been touched on in an earlier post. The role that early warning systems can play in shaping this adaptive response has also been discussed in another post. This post has as its focus an examination of the interactions, as often abound in nature, between factors in the African environment, and how these interactions could contribute to the challenges being faced with precipitation, drought and food security. The role of space science and technology in arming researchers, scientists and government policy makers with the right information and predictive tools to evolve appropriate and evidence-based responses to these challenges is highlighted.

The flow of dust on the African continent is abundant. It has some of the world’s largest sandy deserts- the Sahara (the world’s largest hot desert), the Kalahari and the Namib. The Arabian desert extending from Egypt to Iran is also close by. These supply a stream of dust propelled by the trade winds and which blow huge amounts of dust over the continent towards the equator and the oceans. The effect of these dusty winds on rainfall is by acting as aerosols and interfering with the coalescing of water droplets in rain clouds. This leads to a dispersion effect on the water droplets, preventing rain drop formation and hence precipitation. The scourge of reducing annual rainfall on many parts of the African continent is as shown in the picture below. The socio-economic impact of this is better avoided. Food and water shortages in Kenya this year left about a third of the population in need of aid.

Drought in Africa 2009 (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

Another effect of dust clouds is on Sea Surface Temperature (SST) and its ensuing effect on tropical storms. Although not a major problem for the continent on its Atlantic end, the propagation of El Niño-La Niña events has been linked to droughts, tropical rainfall, storms, floods, malaria and even cholera incidence in some parts of Africa. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) also bears links to other diseases. Space technologies play a crucial part in defining and predicting the occurence of these events and may also aid the mitigation process.
Atlantic Ocean Temperatures at End of June 2009 (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

Aerosol Optical and Dynamic Propoerties (Source: NASA Goddard)

Amongst other uses of space technologies in keeping track of these environmental variables, their use in monitoring groundwater has also been demonstrated. Using results from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) a joint NASA and DLR mission, a team of NASA researchers demonstrated receeding groundwater stores in India, most likely due to irrigation that has relied on these groundwater sources. Thus using satellite technology it is now possible to generate a comprehensive monitoring system that keeps track of not only the environmental variables affecting precipitation and drought, but also the effectiveness and effect of countermeasures developed as part of the anti-drought response.

More info here

Posted in Africa, Climate change, Drought, Earth observation, Epidemiology, Flooding, Health, India, NASA, Satellites, Science, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | 2 Comments »

Dust, Dry Days and Disease in Africa 3

Posted by Simon Adebola on August 14, 2009

Images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites have been very useful in tracking the spread of dust on and away from the African continent. This has also helped in guiding researchers and scientists in observing the links between this spreading dust and various climatic and biological phenomena.
Saharan Dust Travels Over The Atlantic

The image above depicts the flow of dust off the west coast of Africa. The following description from the NASA Earth Observatory states that,

“The Sahara experiences extreme variations in land surface temperature—from freezing temperatures at night to more than 54.4°C (130°F) during the day. The extreme daytime heating in the Sahara Desert, especially during the summer, causes instability in the lowest level of the atmosphere. Dust-laden air rises and begins moving westward. As the air travels—a trip that often takes several days—it continues heating. When this Saharan Air Layer moves off the African coast and over the Atlantic Ocean, it is undercut by a cooler, wetter layer of air. Air normally cools with altitude, but the Saharan Air Layer passing over cooler air currents causes a temperature inversion, which suppresses mixing. As a result, Saharan dust often travels across the Atlantic, sometimes remaining visible throughout the trip.”

Dust moves freely across the continent and blows off the coast driven by the various winds and thus goes to contribute to the soil profile of other parts of the world. It also settles in the ocean along its way adding nutrients and thus embellishing oceanic ecological patterns.

But what effect does this have on human health and livelihood? In looking at that we would like to consider the amount of the earth’s surface that is potentially exposed to airborne dust. Airborne dust has been described, by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, as the primary source of allergic stress worldwide. Deserts (in this case referring to non-polar arid zones) are major sources of dust particles.

Global Distribution of Non-Polar Arid Land (Source: Meig, 1953 in Edwards, K. 2001)

Global Distribution of Non-Polar Arid Land (Source: Meig, 1953 in Edwards, K. 2001)

D. W. Griffin has worked on using satellites to monitor the global spread of dust and linking this with its effects on ecology and human health. His work (in this paper with C. A. Kellogg) identified these effects on life forms, both human and in the oceans, and on various continents. The identified effects include coral bleaching, algal blooms and allergenic effects on humans, including aggravating asthma. This may not be solely due to desert dust but the increased concentration of these dust particles, some as fine as 2.5 microns, in combination with other industrial and environmental pollutants may play a role in immunogenic responses that cause ill health. The human respiratory mucosa usually traps dust particles and tries to clear the respiratory passageways of these irritants. However, these very fine particles may exacerbate that response. This is of more serious concern in individuals with compromised respiratory and immunologic responses.

A lot of the research in this area has focused on the Trans-Atlantic effects of dust spread. This has had effects in the USA and the Carribeans. Griffin reported studies stating a 17 fold increase in paediatric asthma between 1976 and 1999. Other studies identified a relationship between dust events and hospital asthma visits. This however was not solely due to dust of African origin, which was said to have contributed (~50%) alongside other sources of dust activity. Also, the link between dust events and the epidemic prone disease, meninigitis, is already being investigated.

In strengthening the capacity to detect which dust events and sources are responsible for some disease events in Africa, the use of satellite technologies play a very important role. This occupies a relevant area of research alongside other initiatives to boost the monitoring and reporting capacity for Air Quality Indices. There are various aspects of using available resources for strengthening our awareness of the effects of inspired air on human health. The training of scientists and continued collaboration with the environmental sector, meteorologists, climatologists, public health researchers, and healthcare policy makers is a definite step towards developing a functional warning system with strong interventional capability. Academic research institutions can mobilize resources to develop training programmes in support of this crucial area of need. Ultimately such efforts may not go far without governmental support. The role of environmental and healthcare organizations in developing awareness and response capacity and acting to engage political leadership is also of importance. Hand in hand, individuals and associations can work to bring about a safer and securer environment to live and work in.

You can follow the progression of the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) on this site with frequently uploaded satellite images.

Posted in Africa, Earth observation, Epidemiology, Global Security, Health, Healthcare, NASA, Satellites, Science, Space, Space science and technology, Technology | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Africa, Mars, Space and Development- An Interview

Posted by Simon Adebola on June 23, 2009

He conceived and organized the ‘African Mission to Mars’ conference, his research team pioneered the use of space-based technologies for water-borne disease prevention, he is a respected neuroscientist and neurosurgeon. He is also the Chairman, International Institutes of Advanced Research and Training, Chidicon Medical Center located in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. Prince Dr Philip C. Njemanze has been an inspiration to many and here is his interview as conducted by ‘i initiative’.

1. Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into space activities?

Prince Dr Phillip C. Njemanze

Prince Dr Phillip C. Njemanze

I must say that I have been fascinated by Space from childhood, right from the time I started reciting ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ with my Dad at about age 5. However, my first real encounter with Space medical research was in the Soviet Union in 1983, as I worked as a medical student researcher at Rostov State Medical Institute Order of Friendship in Rostov-on-Don Russia with the famous physiologist, Prof Danilov of happy memory. It was on cardiovascular research using Sphygmography for Space-based applications, a work that won the All Soviet Students’ Scientific Research of the Soviet Academy of Science named after Academic Orbeli in Erevan, USSR. I continued my student research at the Institute of Neurocybernetics in Rostov-on-Don Russia under Prof Kogan on tracing pain pathways as a means of developing neurocybernetic control systems suitable for space research.

After my medical school in Russia in 1986, I went for postgraduate studies in Germany, and studied neurosurgery which led me into research of cerebrospinal fluid flow dynamics using magnetic resonance imaging.

Njemanze PC, Beck OJ (1989) MR-gated intracranial CSF dynamics: evaluation of CSF pulsatile flow. AJNR American Journal of Neuroradiology, 10 (1), 77-80

The invention of transcranial Doppler about this time by Rune Aaslid meant that I could continue my research on cardiovascular changes associated with brain blood flow specifically the use of Fourier Analysis of the Cerebrovascular System by 1991

Njemanze PC, Beck OJ, Gomez CR, Horenstein S (June 1991) Fourier analysis of the cerebrovascular system, Stroke. Journal of Cerebral Circulation, 22 (6), 721-6

Just about this time I felt that the major problems associated with Space were the cardiovascular effects that manifest in syncopal episodes. However, not much was known about cerebral blood flow (CBF) changes associated with syncope at that time. So in 1991 I published the first observations of cerebral blood flow changes during syncope for aerospace applications

Njemanze PC (June 1991) Transcranial Doppler evaluation of syncope: an application in aerospace physiology. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 62 (6), 569-72

I went further to identify that 50% reduction of cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFV) was associated with syncope

Njemanze PC (December 1992) Critical limits of pressure-flow relation in the human brain, Stroke. A Journal of Cerebral Circulation, 23 (12), 1743-7

In these series some had no drop in blood pressure but they fainted, I then identified that there was cerebral syncope which was not associated with blood pressure drop

Njemanze PC (April 1993) Cerebral circulation dysfunction and hemodynamic abnormalities in syncope during upright tilt test. The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 9 (3), 238-42

It then raised the question on what was mediating the drop in CBFV if it was not the classical Bezhold-Jarish Reflex, I therefore suggested another mechanism that did not involve cardiac reflexes or cardiopulmonary reflexes.

Njemanze PC (March 1993) Isoproterenol induced cerebral hypoperfusion in a heart transplant recipient, Pacing and Clinical Electrophysiology : Pace, 16 (3 Pt 1), 491-5

Njemanze PC (1992) Cerebrovascular dysautoregulation syndrome in heart-lung transplant recipient. Journal of Cardiovascular Technology, 10, 227-232

With these activities and those by others, the Neurocardiology applications for Space were firmly established. Then I established a company called Chidicon Inc. USA in Missouri and in a joint contract with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company we embarked on research on the CBFV changes associated with use of COMBAT EDGE G-Suit and the water suit Atlantis Worrior

Njemanze PC, Antol PJ, Lundgren CE (May 1993) Perfusion of the visual cortex during pressure breathing at different high-G stress profiles. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 64 (5), 396-400

The question was now what arose first?, is it the CBFV changes?, or is it the blood pressure changes?, so one would know which sensor would be most effective to use in avionic systems. I then identified that the first changes were associated with CBFV by as much as a few seconds.

Njemanze PC (April 1994) Cerebrovascular dysautoregulation syndrome complex–brain hypoperfusion precedes hypotension and cardiac asystole. Japanese Circulation Journal, 58 (4), 293-7

I then proceeded to invent the Physiologic G-Suit Modulator (US Par 5121744), which senses the impending loss of consciousness and transfers the autonomy decision making to the autopilot to avert an accident.

Njemanze Philip C. (2005) Asymmetry of Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity Response to Color Processing and Hemodynamic Changes During -6 Degrees 24-Hour Head-down Bed Rest in Men. Journal of Gravitational Physiology, 12 (2), 2005

I then improved on this invention by adding a system that detects CBFV correlates of mental performance (US Pat 6390979). NASA recently funded a system to accomplish these objectives.

In 1995, I responded to a NASA International Announcement of Opportunities for experiments to study the Brain in Space, mandated by the US Congress, called Neurolab. I was successful as one of the NASA Principal Investigators chosen from 8 countries (USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Nigeria, Netherlands and Canada). My proposal was on the study of the blood flow of the visual cortex in astronauts. On completion of my involvement in the Neurolab in Houston Texas, an opportunity arose through the Cooperative project of the Center for Health Applications of Aerospace Related Technologies (CHAART) at NASA Ames Research Centre and the Third World Foundation. Though this I became the first international recipient of the award to use Space-based Technology to improve the health of people in developing countries. I wrote an overview of the potential applications of aerospace technologies.

Njemanze PC. (1996) Satellite technology and aerospace related warning systems (STARWARS) for disease control: strategy for disease prevention in developing countries of Africa, South America and Asia-Pacific Region. Japanese Journal of Aerospace and Environmental Medicine, 33, 17-130

To develop this area, I founded the Institute of Space Medicine at Chidicon Medical Center, Owerri, Nigeria. Our specific interest was to develop the application of geographic information system technologies to prevention of water-borne infections in Nigeria. This collective effort of our team led to the development of the first GIS platform for planning water resources.

Njemanze PC, Anozie J, Ihenacho JO, Russell MJ, Uwaeziozi AB (September 1999) Application of risk analysis and geographic information system technologies to the prevention of diarrheal diseases in Nigeria. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 61 (3), 356-60

However, my principal area of interest remains Neuroscience in Space. My major interest is what changes in brain cognitive function in Space, and what might be the gender differences. ¨

Specifically I asked what happens to facial perception, motor processing, and color processing in Space.

Facial perception

Njemanze PC (2004) Asymmetry in cerebral blood flow velocity with processing of facial images during head-down rest. Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine, 75 (9), 800-805

Motor processing

Njemanze PC (July 2002) Cerebral lateralization for motor tasks in simulated microgravity. A transcranial Doppler technique for astronauts. Journal of Gravitational Physiology, 9 (1), 33-34

Color processing

Njemanze Philip C. (2005) Asymmetry of Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity Response to Color Processing and Hemodynamic Changes During -6 Degrees 24-Hour Head-down Bed Rest in Men. Journal of Gravitational Physiology, 12 (2), 2005

2. What are your areas of research interest and which interesting projects are you currently working on?

I am currently developing non-invasive neurodiagnostic methods for detecting neural processes of memory, feeding, and addiction in the Space environment.

3. As an African with an interest in space activities, what were the challenges you faced?

The major obstacle is lack of funding. I had to establish a personal foundation and raise money from personal sources to support the research at my lab for close to two decades, and I have no regrets. The challenges are still persisting but the outcome thus far has surpassed all my initial expectations. Glory be to God.

4. Did you ever feel that space was too impractical for the African setting?

Not at all, in actual fact Africa needs Space research more than the industrialized World, because the solutions for communication, health, agriculture and others will be attained faster with Space-based Research. That was why in 22-23 Oct 2007, I initiated and organized the first Mission to Mars: The African Perspective in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. This achieved many milestones, such as Cassava Research for Mars Mission with JAXA, Japanese Space Agency, Climate Change Theory, Cognitive Neuroscience for Mars Mission and others. Today Nigeria is planning water resources using Space-based GIS and Advanced Risk Analysis Systems.

5. From your experience in space activities which of the things you have came across do you wish you can replicate back in Africa as being of necessity for development?

As you can see from my descriptions, the initiative for disease control actually has its origins in Africa, and has become one of the most successful Space-based initiatives that are finding applications in Africa and other developing countries. In a recent commentary on ‘Water Contamination: The Way Forward’ in the March 2009 Issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research, I highlighted that the greatest achievement of the next decade and attainment of Millennium Development Goals will be accomplished using Space-based technologies of GIS and Risk Analysis for prevention of water-borne infections. Which I humbly point out was first implemented in literature by our team in Nigeria in 1999.

6. What advice do you have for young Africans seeking to choose a career path in Space-related activities? How can they keep in touch with you and your activities?

Young Africans must be bold and courageous to choose Space Research. As far as they remain true to their calling and sustain interest with hard work, Space will not even be their limit. For those wanting to read about our efforts in Space research please visits us at http://www.chidicon.com.

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