Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 5 July 2020

UAE IN SPACE

UAE's student-built climate observation satellite to launch this summer

The MeznSat nanosat will detect greenhouse gas emissions over the UAE when launched in June

An illustration of the student-built satellite due to launch in June. Courtesy: American University of Ras Al Khaimah
An illustration of the student-built satellite due to launch in June. Courtesy: American University of Ras Al Khaimah

The UAE will be launching a student-built nanosatellite that aims to tackle climate change into space this June.

Pupils at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah developed the MeznSat nanosat, in collaboration with Khalifa University and the UAE Space Agency.

The project aims to detect harmful gases over the UAE which are contributing to climate change, including carbon dioxide and methane.

"The MeznSat project broadens the horizons of UAE’s satellite capabilities, which include remote sensing, Earth observation and communications,” said Khalid Al Awadi, director of space mission management at UAE Space Agency.

“The key objective of the project is education, in keeping with our vision to contribute to the international space sector, strengthen scientific research methodologies and develop capabilities in the UAE.”

The satellite passed the critical design review stage and is currently undergoing final stages of construction in the cleanroom at AURAK’s space lab. It will soon move into a testing phase.

Russia’s Soyuz-2 rocket will carry Meznsat to space and it will be placed 565km above Earth. It will lift off in June from Russia, AURAK said, but no exact date was revealed. Launch service provider Exolaunch was hired for MeznSat’s lift off.

The components of the nanosat includes two payloads, a computer that measures sensor data, a spectrometre to measure the gases, an RGB camera and antennas.

MeznSat will measure the abundance and distribution of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere using its visible camera and the shortwave infrared spectrometre.

It will provide insight into the concentration of nutrients in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf. This allows for more accurate predictions of algal blooms and supports timely implementation of precautionary measures.

Once in orbit, the team of students will monitor, process and analyse the data from a ground station in the UAE.

Jeanne Medvedeva, the commercial director at Exolaunch, said: “The UAE Space Agency is nurturing some of the world’s brightest young minds who apply space-based solutions to tackle global issues. It is extremely rewarding for us to support their vision.”

In November 2018, student-built nanosat MySat-1 was launched to the International Space Station. It was developed by students at the Khalifa University.

Updated: March 19, 2020 07:53 PM

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