The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States will, over a span of three years, make Walvis Bay one of their bases. But NASA’s presence has little to do with space travel, instead it is their intention to test the quality of aerosols in the atmosphere over the length and breadth over the Namibian coast from the Kunene River to the Orange River, and into the ocean up to St Helena.
Their research will also cover parts of southern Angola. The National Commission on Research for Science and Technology (NCRST) together with relevant scientific bodies based at the University of Namibia and the Polytechnic of Namibia will aid the NCRST who will in-turn assist the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Economist was able to establish on good authority. At the time of going to print, The NCRST had not responded to queries from the Economist. But a person familiar with the project explained to the Economist what the project would entail saying “ the observation of the aerosols will take place far above the clouds.” Up to one hundred scientists from NASA and its sister organisations are expected to participate in the two-year study. The first group of scientists us expected to arrive in the country in October later this year to kick-start the project. “There is currently no research study of this nature taking place anywhere else. The United Kingdom through its meteorological office will also get involved in the pilot study,” said the scientist. “The conditions here are more natural then other parts of Africa.” Scientists believe aerosols may have a big impact on climate change and might affect global temperatures. According to the scientist, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been encouraged to set up a local operational point. “We’ve recommended that NASA set up a liaison office here. It is an important collaborative project.”
“It is still early days, dialogue is however on-going to maximise Namibia’s capacity through various interventions” he said.