By Jasmine Alfaro
Beginning this month, Africa will launch its first private satellite into orbit to monitor the continent’s altering weather conditions. This feat is unparallel to similar inventions due to the team of 14 African schoolgirls from Cape Town, South Africa who designed and built it.
The inventors of the satellite are all part of a high school Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) boot camp, and dedicate their time to studying satellites and astronomy. The girls learned how to program and launch CricketSat satellites with high-altitude weather balloons from satellite engineers at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Paid by South Africa’s Meta Economic Development Organization (MEDO), the satellite will send data back to Earth, report on Africa’s thermal images twice a day and detect possible natural disasters in the large continent. Other functions include collecting information to improve the area’s agriculture, food security, and disaster prevention.
The girls were motivated to build the satellite after experiencing the aftermath of hurricane El Niño last April, which shortened the continent’s corn supply and forced residents to pay for expensive imports.
They are optimistic about the satellite’s outcome and hope to involve more girls from other African countries to unleash their potential.
Brittany Bull, one of the girls responsible for building the satellite, told CNN, “I want to show fellow girls that we don’t need to limit ourselves. Any career is possible – even aerospace.”