College of Agriculture, Engineering
and Science (CAES)

Wamisho: First NASSP Master’s Graduate

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Since he was a young boy growing up in the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr Adila Wamisho has always been passionate about Maths and Physics.

This interest would later lead him towards his undergraduate studies at Dilla University in Ethiopia where he would hone his passion for Physics.

‘After working for a year as a high school Physics and Maths teacher, I enrolled at Addis Ababa University graduate studies to study Physics at master level. Then, I worked for a few years as a lecturer for Mizan-Tepi University in Ethiopia,’ he said.

While working as a lecturer at Mizan-Tepi University, Wamisho would be led to apply for studies in Space Physics at UKZN through National Astrophysics and Space Science (NASSP). ‘I joined UKZN as I knew it would help develop me in the area of Space Physics research. Through taking this opportunity, I became the first NASSP UKZN Master’s student,’ said Wamisho.

His research focused on the effect of geometric storms. Space weather is concerned with the condition of the sun which affects near-Earth environment and space technological equipment. The sun emits electromagnetic waves and magnetises electrically charged particles continuously. Occasionally, there are large eruptions in the sun which intensify what it usually emits. When the emission is large, it causes a disturbance called a geomagnetic storm. That means the Earth’s magnetic field (which is the shield of harmful waves and particles coming from the sun) will be disturbed and cannot protect near-earth space well.

‘My study was on the effect of these disturbances in the Ionosphere. I used satellites data such as OMNIWeb, POES and GOES and South African ionosonde as well as magnetometer data to see how the Ionosphere over the South African region was affected in the time of intense geomagnetic storms,’ said Wamisho, who feels that Space Physics is an integral part of the development and transformation of Africa as a whole. ‘Space science in general has plenty of implications in society because our day-to day-life is more dependent on space technology. For instance, the condition in the sun dictates how well our telecommunication and power grids are,’ he said.

Wamisho plans to pursue his PhD at UKZN in partnership with HartRAO where he will study the effects of geomagnetic storms on satellite drags using Satellite Laser Raging (SLR) further under the supervision of Professor S Venkataraman (UKZN) and Dr R Botha (HartRAO).

Words: Zolile Duma 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal