GCRO delegation attends a study tour in Germany hosted by BayFOR

  • Date of publication: 22 March 2023

Through a signed memorandum of understanding between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR) in Germany, a delegation from the GCRO (Dr Laven Naidoo, Dr Rob Moore and Ms Samkelisiwe Khanyile) was hosted by BayFOR under the mission of a study tour. The purpose of the study tour, which took place between the 6th and 10th March 2023, was to visit various Bavarian research institutions in order to share scientific ideas and develop collaborative opportunities while advancing the GCRO’s research agenda. On the 7th March, the GCRO team met with the CEO of BayFOR, Martin Reichel, and the BayFOR Africa team (Susanne Reichenbach, Sebastian Botzler, Susanne Hirschmann and Melanie Schulte) at the BayFOR headquarters in Munich. Following discussions, the GCRO and BayFOR teams headed to the Deutsches Lunft- und Raumfahrtzentrum (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen, which is the German Aerospace Centre. At DLR, the teams visited the satellite control and project center at which various space technologies were discussed such as the International Space Station (ISS) Columbus Module (multi-purpose laboratory for multi-disciplinary research under microgravity conditions) and the TerraSAR-X/Tandem-X radar satellite. The control room of the ISS was also made available to the team where they saw the ISS astronauts on-board conduct their daily tasks as well as the detailed and scheduled preparation of ISS data collection and communication. Following the facility tour, the GCRO team met various DLR scientists who presented research ranging from topics related to the characterisation of the global urban footprint to the study of NO2 concentration and it’s relation to GDP growth as well as health risks associated with air pollution. The GCRO team made a presentation which outlined the challenges faced in the Gauteng province, the concept of urban data science which can address some of these challenges and its associated applications currently being explored via GCRO projects.


GCRO and BayFOR teams (left to right: Susanne Hirschmann, Robin Moore, Melanie Schulte, Martin Reichel, Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Laven Naidoo, Susanne Reichenbach & Sebastian Botzler).


The International Space Station control room.


DLR LiDAR module on one of the buildings.

On the 8th March, the GCRO and BayFOR teams visited the Bundeswehruniversität in Neubiberg which is a military university for soldiers who also want a civil education. The scientists at the Earth Observation Lab, headed by Prof Schmitt, presented specific remote sensing related research with the Copernicus programme (Sentinel-1, 2 and 3) being used as the ‘backbone’. Their research subjects include cloud removal algorithms, deriving NDVI (‘greenness index’) from radar backscatter (useful in agricultural areas and time-series analysis), wilderness mapping and 3D cities modelling and urban footprint mapping.


GCRO, BayFOR, Bundeswehruniversität professor and postgraduate students (left to right: Susanne Reichenbach, Laven Naidoo, Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Prof Michael Schmitt, Burak Ekim, Maximilian Eitel, Thomas Roßberg and Robin Moore).

On the 9th March, the final day of the tour, the teams visited the Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf Institute in Freising where Dr Christa Baldioli and colleagues gave the teams a comprehensive tour of this applied science university during which different faculties and the associated project research were visited. Such faculties included the GIS unit, the applied natural science unit, the practical farming unit and the Peatland Science Centre just to name a few. A large scope of research pertaining to climate change resilience, alternative energy (e.g. biogas), horticulture (e.g. vertical farming, rooftop gardens and stand-alone horticulture units), forestry and environmental engineering was covered. The conclusion of this tour also coincided with the conclusion of the Bavarian study tour which successfully fostered fruitful collaborations with South African and German scientists and institutions. Watch this space for exciting collaborations!


GCRO, BayFOR and Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf Institute postgraduate student at the smart indoor farming unit (left to right: Eleonora Itri, Samkelisiwe Khanyile, Laven Naidoo, Melanie Schulte).


The city of Freising on a cloudy day.


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