DAY 1: Space science and Astronomy in science engagement

DAY 1: Space science and Astronomy in science engagement


The seeming tensions between the scientific, societal, and economic worth and contribution of Astronomy and Space science in the public discourse requires attention. The impact astronomy has had on our society historically, and at present, in terms of cultural, technological, and economic benefits. This webinar will focus on why these benefits are so difficult to quantify in terms of the contribution made by basic science. The webinar will show that science communicators and practitioners need to do what they can to promote the worth of their work in the wider world. The webinar will also look at the contribution made by space science in science engagement and the national activities of SANSA in this space nationally.


To show how space science and Astronomy can be used in engaging different publics. 


Mr. Dan Matsapola

Mr Dan Matsapola, South African National Space Agency (SANSA)



Mr Dan Matsapola is the African Space Scientist whose academic training background includes three post-graduate qualifications in Physics, Satellite Engineering and Business Management. Dan has also studied entrepreneurship and investing for 5 years with his Wealth Creators mentor, Dr Hannes Dreyer, from September 2005 when he was still tracking Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) remote sensing satellites at the DENEL Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape Province to September 2010 while promoting the use of Earth Observation data in developing countries at the CSIR Satellite Application Centre in Hartebeeshoek (Gauteng Province). Dan is the founding member of SANSA and the inaugural Science Advancement Manager at SANSA Earth Observation division. He has vast experience in the global space industry, having worked with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) since July 2008 and is the SANSA representative on the CEOS Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy (WGCapD) that conducts training in the use of Earth Observation for sustainable development in developing countries. He is the Science Engagement Manager at SANSA Earth Observation division in Pretoria and actively manages the national space awareness portfolio targeting African youth to support STEM education for the knowledge economy. Dan has traveled the world on space missions and is passionate about human capital development. Dan is the author of the book Thriving in the 4th Industrial Revolution – Beyond Survival, the Facebook edition of which is available for free from the author to share his inspirational journey in the space industry and beyond.

Simphiwe  virtual engagements profile pic

Simphiwe Madlanga, SARAO



Simphiwe Madlanga is a qualified geologist, SACNASP-registered earth scientist, science communicator, workshop facilitator & trainer, presenter & motivator. He is an avid reader and passionate about studying. Madlanga is currently the Science Engagement Coordinator for the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) –a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF). In this role, he is responsible for implementing and fulfilling the objectives of science engagement of SARAO as per the NRF-SARAO mandate flowing from an overarching mandate by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI – formerly DST). 

SARAO is an amalgamation of the then Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO) and the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA).