x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

UAE's first remote sensing satellite captures image of Dubai's new airport

The newly opened Al Maktoum International Airport is seen via the UAE's first remote sensing satellite.

DubaiSat-1 clicked this image of Al Maktoum International Airport while passing over the UAE recently.
DubaiSat-1 clicked this image of Al Maktoum International Airport while passing over the UAE recently.

DUBAI // A Government research centre has released a satellite image of Dubai's newly opened Al Maktoum International Airport to commemorate the transport hub and the advances in satellite technology in the Emirates. The picture came from DubaiSat-1, the country's first remote sensing satellite, which captures and transmits images. The craft was developed by a South Korean firm with help from a team of 14 nationals from the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST). It was launched a year ago as the organisation's first project.

EIAST is part of a Government effort to develop national know-how in science and technology, to assist in urban planning and other projects and to help build a knowledge-based economy. The group is helping to design and build DubaiSat-2. "Currently we're in the phase of learning and developing," said Salem al Marri, the director of the EIAST space programme. "We have to gain as much knowledge as we can."

Mr al Marri and 13 Emirati engineers worked for about two years in South Korea, where they helped evaluate the pre-existing design of the first satellite and build it. They contributed about a third of the work and expect that amount to rise to about half on DubaiSat-2, which is likely to be launched in 2012 or 2013. EIAST hopes to build subsequent craft on its own. The organisation has a ground team of 10 Emiratis that runs a satellite command-and-control centre in Khawaneej, processes images and analyses their data. The institute's research arm, the Emirates Centre for Scientific Research, explores areas such as alternative energy and nanotechnology.

DubaiSat-1, which flies 6080km above the planet in low Earth orbit, has proved helpful in a range of projects for public and private groups, from urban planning to environmental research. Government officials have utilised its images to map urban areas, while developers have purchased them to monitor construction and planning projects. Researchers at EIAST are using the pictures to monitor such diverse subjects as a desalination plant and fog patterns. They also hope to begin participating in international disaster relief by providing snapshots of regions affected by floods or earthquakes, which aid workers can use to better focus their efforts.

The image of Al Maktoum International Airport, in Dubai's Jebel Ali area, was meant to mark the completion of the first phase of the facility, one of the world's largest. "You don't open an airport every day," said Mr al Marri. "The image is also very impressive." @Email:chuang@thenational.ae