The one where the first Chilean satellite fails to separate from Sich-1, the first Ukrainian satellite. And where Sich-2 supports Cameroonian-Nigerian flood relief effort

This is not happening for the first time. In September 2012, continuous rainfall and the release of the Lagdo Dam caused the Benue River, the major tributary of the Niger River, to burst its banks, which flooded neighbouring residential areas. Extreme floods have devastated northern regions of Cameroon and parts of Nigeria. Nearly 20 people have died and thousands more are left homeless.

Ukraine supports Benue River floods relief efforts with this image of land around Cameroonian city of Maga taken by Sich-2 satellite
The Benue River flows in Cameroon and Nigeria

Since 1982, when the dam was built in Lagdo town on the Adamawa Plateau in the Northern Province of Cameroon along the course of the Benue River, lowland communities in north-eastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa and Taraba are usually flooded whenever water is released from the reservoir across the border in Cameroon.

But the Ukrainians got involved for allegedly the first time now. The United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) Regional Support Office in Ukraine (Space Research Institute NASU-NSAU) supported the relief efforts following the September floods in Cameroon by providing flood maps.

The group of Chilean engineers who worked on Chile’s first satellite. Fernando Mujica, head of FASat-Alfa is in the centre, front row; on his left is engineer Ramón Salgado; on Mr Mujica’s right is engineer Héctor Gutiérrez. In the background from left to right: Comandante de Escuadrilla Rodrigo Suárez, Comandante de Grupo Mario Arancibia, engineer Alvaro Valenzuela, Comandante de Escuadrilla Marcelo Schonherr, engineer Juan Gatica and Victor van der Zel. (Photo courtesy of Fasat.aviacion.cl)

The International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” was activated to acquire satellite images over affected regions. In the context of this activation, the UN-SPIDER Regional Support Office in Ukraine, the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU) and the Center of the Special Information Receiving and Processing and the Navigating Field Control (CSIRP and NFC) coordinated their efforts in order to acquire images from the Ukrainian remote sensing satellite Sich-2 and deliver maps of flood waters. Two images were acquired: One of the city of Maga (10 September 2012) and one of the city of Garoua (the third largest city in Cameroon) (15 September 2012).

Following the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, the assorted satellite assets of various private, national, and international space agencies provide for humanitarian coverage which is wide albeit contingent. First activated for floods in northeast France in December 2001, the Charter has since brought space assets into play for numerous earthquakes, oil spills, forest fires, tsunamis, major snowfalls, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and landslides.

The United Nations Office at Vienna, location of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs since 1993

UN-SPIDER is a programme under the auspices of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

Sich-2 is the third spacecraft to be launched in the Sich series of Ukrainian satellites. Sich-1 was placed into orbit in August 1995. It was the first Ukrainian satellite to be launched since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The first Chilean satellite, FASAT-Alfa, was intended to have been deployed from Sich-1, however it failed to separate.

See related materials

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