Category Archives: Education

Space, Science & the Africa2Moon Mission – Schools Presentation

The Foundation for Space Development has embarked on a series of School Presentations to raise awareness of:

  • The importance of Space to our daily lives (economic & societal)
  • The value of incorporating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) with a general Space application awareness in any career path.
  • The Africa2Moon Mission & how to participate in Africa’s first ever Space Exploration Programme

If you would like to organize this presentation at your school please complete the booking enquiry form on the Foundations website.

Africa2Moon Phase I Sponsor:


Africa2Moon Phase I Supporters:

FSD ctsc


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UJ launches Postgraduate School for Engineering Management

ujWith a long history of offering programmes in engineering management, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) has formally launched a Postgraduate School for Engineering Management.

Prof. Jan Harm Pretorius – Head of the Postgraduate School for Engineering Management

The 2012 Infrastructure Sector Research Report indicates: “SA firms in South Africa are reporting a shortage of engineers, engineering managers and project management skills.” Aligned to the requirements of the infrastructure sector and the broader fields of engineering, one finds that the overall demand for engineering managers remains yet to be addressed. Given the long history of engineering management at UJ, and UJ’s vision of becoming an “An international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future,” UJ has focused its resources along some of its strengths. One such strength, reflected by the exponential growth in the programme, is its engineering management flagship programme.

The postgraduate programmes of the school caters for part-time and full-time students. A number of part-time students from Johannesburg as well as the broader continent benefit through the after-hours presentation of the programme. The programme is led by Prof Jan-Harm Pretorius, Acting Head: Postgraduate School of Engineering Management, supported by a number of industrial experts. The programme is also supported by positive feedback from its alumni and reflected by the uptake at both the master’s and doctoral level. The master’s programme is offered as a 1:1 combination between course-work and a research project (a mini dissertation). Prof Saurabh Sinha, Executive Dean: FEBE said: “Frequently students align their mini-dissertation work to strengths of those offering the programme, but also to the interest of a given industrial sector. The approach helps to explore, in depth, the shortcomings of a given sector and develop solutions based on best practices world-wide.”

To build the strength of the programme, the school will recruit further international and national expertise. Regarding international expertise: the school has recruited one distinguished professor, supported by three distinguished visiting professors, who together cross-cut various engineering disciplines.


Research Opportunity: Photonics & Space in Latvia

University of Latvia – Fotonika

Research opportunity for up to 3 months in Riga, Latvia. Open to all nationalities.

The Foundation for Space Development has been informed that there are available slots for researchers involved in photonics and space related research to work in Riga for up to 3 months in 2015.

The work would have to conclude by June, 2015.  This would be within the framework of the EU Framework 7 project FOTONIKA-LV REGPOT 2011.

With the proper qualifications it can pay 3,000 EUR per month.  This is before taxes which are close to 40%.   Travel costs to Latvia would be covered.

There may also be an opportunity to work on the proposal for an International Lunar Decade

To apply We will need a CV including any publications.   PhD, possibly master’s level people with a passion for space development and tied into networks of people involved in space research or commercial space development would be perfect.   Office facilities would be available at the Riga Photonics Center.   The monthly compensation would have to cover housing and food costs.   Assistance will be available to find reasonable housing.

For more information & to apply visit: FOTONIKA 2015 Grant

EDUCATION: Should school maths in (South) Africa be in ICU?

Annual National Assessment 2014 – more of the same…
by Sam Christie, Director of SAILI (

2014 View

Here we can see the breakdown of performance for all students, by province for maths at grade 9. This will be shocking if you have not seen it before.

Here is the same one from last year and apart from some formatting changes – the view is more or less identical. Was shocking then, and still is now…

2013 View

Then I checked the 2012 version, well apart from flipping the image so that high performance is at the bottom, again the story is the same.

2012 View

In my last post on this subject I wrote the following:

I know a lot of folks have problems with system testing and the ANA’s do have problems (curriculum coverage/moderation marking and increased focus on test prep etc) but in the absence of any better data, we must use what we have or ask if we would rather not know the scale of our problems.

Having read the ANA reports for past couple of years though, I think we now cannot hide from the fact that knowing we have problems, where they are etc does not really seem to help us focus on fixing them.

This statement is what I pulled out of the recommendations and way forward section of the 2014 ANA report – this relates specifically to the grade 9 performance:

“Fast-track support” to underperforming schools? But that must be almost the whole school system if the ANA data is telling us anything.

I have not read the whole report yet, and apparently there are gains in the primary school system, I will have to look at that when I get a chance but what is clear is that High Schools remain extremely weak at maths. We also know that this weakness is not evenly distributed. A small sample of typically high cost schools account for the vast majority of high performance.

For an interactive view of the data, I have updated the live visualisation I put together on the 2013 ANA’s – it can be seen here:

SAILI Analysis of 2013 and 2014 ANA data.

By Jan we will be back to talking about matric – which is a pity as grade 9 in my mind should be the real talking point. Students are all still doing the same subjects – there is no maths lit here, students have not dropped out yet – dropout makes a lot of schools look better at matric than they really are and grade 9 is where students choose their matric subjects.

Enough for now…..

GRANT: IAF Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme

The International Astronautical Federation is pleased to announce the opening of applications for the Emerging Space Leaders (ESL) Grant Programme, dedicated to young people, young professionals, that provides opportunities for students and young professionals to participate in the annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC).


The young people selected to take part in the 2015 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme will participate in the 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) taking place in Jerusalem, Israel from 12 – 16 October 2015. The individuals selected will also participate in other activities held the week prior to and during the Congress such as the UN/IAF Workshop and the Space Generation Congress (SGC) and Cross-Cultural Communication and Presentation Workshop.

Up to fourteen students and young professionals will be selected by the IAF to participate in the 2015 programme. Based on an agreement signed in March 2014 between IAF and HE Space Children’s Foundation (HESCF), two of the fourteen students and young professionals will be funded by HESCF.

Who is eligible to apply?

Students and Young Professionals between the ages of 21 and 35 on 1 January 2015 with space-related career interests are encouraged to apply for the programme. Individuals interested in pursuing careers involving the development, application and use of space systems, space science research, the policy, legal, social and cultural aspects of space activities, international cooperation on space programmes and other similar subjects. Persons who – for financial, sponsorship or other reasons – would not otherwise be able to attend the International Astronautical Congress.

Note: Candidates may apply regardless of their home country or current residence. While all applications will be considered, through this programme the IAF seeks to encourage the participation of young people in nations with emerging space capabilities and interests who would otherwise not be able to attend the IAC.

Young people who wish to meet and interact with other colleagues from around the world with similar interests. Individuals who hope to utilise the knowledge and experiences they gain during the IAC in their own careers and in enhancing space and related activities in their home countries.

What does the grant include?

Round trip air fare between the candidate’s home country and Jerusalem, Israel. Support (in kind-services or funding) for local transportation, lodging and meals during the candidate’s stay in Jerusalem, Israel. Assistance with visa arrangements provided by the IAC Local Organising Committee and the Government of Israel. Registration in the 66th International Astronautical Congress as well as the Space Generation Congress or the UN/IAF Workshop, the Cross Cultural Communication and Presentation Workshop and other associated activities. Mentors will provide advice on presentations at the IAC and on activities before and during the IAC to help grant recipients benefit fully from the Congress and related meetings and meet with the grant recipient during the IAC.

Application Deadline: 6 February 2015 15:00 Paris Time / UTC + 1:00

To apply for the 2015 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme, fill in the application form by clicking on the following link:

For detailed information, application process and requirements please download our “2015 IAF Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme Handbook”.

Please contact if you have any questions.

Over 18 million university graduates have left Africa

“One in every nine persons born in Africa with a tertiary diploma lived in the OECD in 2010/11.”

A 2013 study conducted jointly by UN-DESA (United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs) and the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development) found that 1 in 9 University graduates born in Africa are now living in the 34 OECD countries. That is a staggering 18.6 million skilled people in those 34 countries alone.

Projects like Africa2Moon & the SKA are vital in not only helping Africa retain its skill-set, but to entice more students to enter into the sciences and to have invaluable collaborations with international experts in these fields.

The long term solution for Africa is education and if we do not redress the imbalance in migration we cannot expect the situation to improve.

A donation to Africa2Moon is a donation towards the long term sustainability of Africa through education.

Download the full study report here: World-Migration-in-Figures

Is there science still to be done on the Moon?

Impact Bombardment
Figure 1.  The leading hypothesis for the origin of the Moon involves a huge collision between the Earth and a planet half its size.  Some of that colliding material was added to the Earth, but a large fraction of the impact debris went into orbit around the Earth.  The orbiting material accreted together to form the Moon.  The CLSE team will be testing that hypothesis by examining the chemical composition of samples from the Moon and the ages of those samples.

Impact Bombardment Throughout the Solar System
Impact events are an intimate part of the formation of planets, both during the initial accretional phase and late in the growth of a planet when giant impact events may dramatically alter the final outcome. Large collisions, for example, have been implicated in the formation of the Moon from the Earth (Figure 1), the stripping of Mercury’s mantle, the northern-southern hemisphere dichotomy of Mars, and the formation of Charon from Pluto. Periods of enhanced impact bombardment of post-accretion planetary surfaces have also been deduced from solar system exploration studies. Apollo, for example, demonstrated that the Moon was heavily cratered sometime during the first ~600 million years of its existence in what has been termed by some to be the period of Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB).

Dusty circumstellar disks around young stars outside our solar system indicate the collisional evolution of young planetary systems can be violent. Initial Spitzer Space Telescope data indicate that some systems show dust signatures well above the average at ages from 100 to 600 million years old. Observations support the idea that the ~350 million-year-old A star Vega and the ~2 billion-year-old G star HD 69830 recently experienced collisions between large planetesimals that have generated these elevated dust signatures.

The consequences of the collisional evolution of young planetary systems, including our own solar system, are profound. It now seems clear that:

  1. Early bombardment of planets can completely resurface them.
  2. These impacts can alter the physical and chemical state of (and/or blow-off) planetary atmospheres.
  3. The bombardment can make surface conditions unpalatable for biogenic processes.
  4. In contrast, the impacts can also create subsurface environments that are suitable crucibles for pre-biotic reactions and possible habitats for any life that develops.
  5. The impacting objects and interplanetary dust that accompanies them can deliver important biogenic components like water, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus).
  6. The impacting objects may also be the source of important siderophile (iron-loving) element addition.

The Apollo Legacy
While it is generally recognized that the impact cratering rate was more intense early in solar system history, it is not clear how that rate evolved. Some investigators have suggested there was a smooth decline with time, while others have suggested there were one or more episodes of particularly intense activity superimposed on a background decline in the impact rate.

The Apollo and Luna missions provided the first opportunities to investigate this issue. Argon-argon isotopic analyses of Apollo and Luna samples suggested three to possibly six of the impact basins on the nearside of the Moon had been produced between 3.88 and 4.05 billion years ago. Additional analyses of Apollo samples indicated the U-Pb and Rb-Sr systems had been disturbed nearly uniformly at ~3.9 billion years ago, which was attributed to metamorphism of the entire lunar crust by a large number of asteroid and/or cometary collisions in a brief pulse of time, <200 million years long, in what was termed the lunar cataclysm. A  growing number of ~3.9 billion-year-old impact melt ages from the Apollo and Luna collections seemed to confirm the pattern. It was suggested that the decline in the impact rate was not smooth, but punctuated by at least one large influx of material.

The hypothesis of an intense period of bombardment ~3.9-4.0 billion years ago is still controversial, however. There are currently several models under consideration. Some investigators have argued for a lunar cataclysm ~3.9-4.0 Ga and a relatively low impact rate between ~4.4 and 4.0 billion years ago (lower curve in Figure 2). They also argued that the duration of the cataclysm may have been as short as 10-20 million years long. Others have argued that the time span of the bombardment may have been longer and/or that the impact rate prior to ~3.9-4.0 billion years ago was relatively high (upper two curves in Figure 2). In all cases, it is generally agreed that there was a significant decrease in the lunar cratering rate after ~3.8 billion years ago when the last basin-forming impact occurred.

Some investigators have suggested that sampling issues, particularly on the Moon, cloud our ability to resolve the impact cratering record prior to ~3.9 billion years ago, and do not accept the notion of a cataclysm on the Moon, asteroids, or any other body in the solar system. There are also interesting discrepancies in existing data. While Apollo samples suggest a relatively abrupt decline in the impact-cratering rate ~3.85 billion years ago, lunar meteorite data and chondritic meteorite data suggest it may have been drawn out until 3.5 to 3.4 billion years ago. To test these ideas, the CLSE team will analyze samples from the Moon and asteroids to determine the timing and magnitude of impact events that occurred in the Solar System.

Although the lunar cataclysm hypothesis is one of Apollo’s highlights and remains the number-one science priority of NASA (NRC 2007), it is representative of a broader range of questions. We now understand that impact cratering is the dominant process affecting the lunar surface. There are hints that the Moon’s origin may be intimately tied to a collisional event (the giant impact hypothesis) when the accretion rate was much higher (Figure 2). We have also gleaned from Apollo that impact events have produced a unique lunar surface regolith, which itself is a record of meteoritic and heliophysical processes and the medium with which future lunar surface exploration will be immersed. We have designed an integrated interdisciplinary study of impact processing of the Moon that tackles the highest science priorities identified by the NRC for NASA.

Source: NASA Center for Lunar Science & Exploration


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