Atmosphere Is A ‘Vital Resource,’ Says Rabiu

cloudy skyNigerian space physicist, Prof. Tunde Rabiu, has decried that neither policy makers nor scientists fully appreciate the strategic importance of the atmosphere and the entire geospace to the country’s communications needs.

Prof. Rabiu, who is the director of the Centre for Atmospheric Research (CAR), Ayingba, Kogi State, said the viability of Nigeria’s communications, commerce and transport sectors hinge “on how much policy makers and the general public understand about this region”.

In a telephone interview with The Guardian, Rabiu said CAR, the newest outlet of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), would, this month, stage Africa’s first International School On Equatorial And Low-Latitude Ionosphere (ISELLI), to urgently redress the collective lapse.

“Our prime objectives in this first Nigerian seminar, are capacity-building among higher degree candidates, as well as teachers, aAnd raising public awareness of geo-space,” he said.

Rabiu described geo-space as “the region surrounding Earth, including the ionosphere, where various electrical and magnetic forces are at work. This area, which nobody thinks about very much, is critically important for communication, research telemetry, orbiting satellites and manned space flight.”

The ionosphere, he said, contains lots of charged (electrified) particles, such as free protons and electrons—known, in aggregate, as “plasma,” adding that eruptions on the Sun’s surface, and changes in the intensity of the solar wind, can create turbulence in ionospheric plasma.

According to him, “When this happens, there can be highly adverse consequences, both in space and on Earth. Communication is often disrupted and orbiting satellites can get damaged. This obviously affects hi-tech industries and services on earth’s surface—since most are now satellite-based”.

He said that ISELLI was jointly sponsored by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and NASRDA, the parent body of CAR.

“It was a follow-up of the Japanese-installed, “All-Sky Imager,” a laboratory and telescopic camera system, housed at NASRDA’s Abuja headquarters,” he added

According to him, the Asia-Africa Science Platforms of the JSPS core-to-core project, an extension of the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan are co-organizer of the workshop.

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