Space Science on Ice – The life of an Antarctic adventurer

Scifest participants were enthralled by the adventures of one of South Africa's many researchers travelling to and working in Antarctica.


Danielle Taljaard found working as a radar engineer at the South African National Antarctica Expedition (SANAE) base on Antarctica life changing.


"I not only got to do what I love, but to experience living on Antarctica," she said at the 22nd annual national science festival in Grahamstown.


She recently returned from a 15-month stint as part of the 56th SANAE. Trained as an electronic engineer at the University of Pretoria, Danielle was one of 10 South African scientists at the base as part of the South African National Antarctic Programme.


"Antarctica is known as the window into geospace. It has magnetic lines that converge at the poles and this means that it is the closest we can get to observing the influence the sun has on us and out near-space environment," said Taljaard.


She is an employee of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), and her work on the base was sending data on her radar monitoring of space weather back to South Africa.


She said that "space weather describes the conditions in space that affect the Earth and its technological systems."


SANSA operates a wide suite of specialised instruments and systems from the South African base to monitor our near-earth space environment. SANSA engineers live at the base throughout the year in order to maintain and develop these systems, while ensuring that meaningful data is transferred back to the Space Agency.


Taljaard is currently concluding her research work, and briefing the next team that will go to Antarctica.


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