RAS AL KHAIMAH 23 March 2020: A satellite that the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (Aurak), students are helping to develop, build and test is planned to be launched on a Soyuz-2 rocket from Russia in June 2020.
Dr. Abdul-Halim Jallad, Director and Assistant Professor, Centre of Information, Communication and Networking Education and Innovation, said the MeznSat Nano-satellite is designed to detect greenhouse gas concentrations from an orbit of 565 kilometres above the earth.
The project has successfully passed the critical design review stage and the satellite is currently undergoing the final stages of construction in the purpose-built cleanroom at Aurak’s Space Lab before it moves on to the testing phase in March 2020, said Wam.
The project is a collaboration between the UAE Space Agency, Aurak and the Khalifa University of Science and Technology.
First student-built scientific satellite in the UAE
MeznSat will be the first student-built scientific satellite in the UAE. The project aims at providing the UAE space industry with qualified, well-trained graduates through hands-on experience, while at the same time paving the way for advanced space-oriented research relevant to the UAE.
The project has seen undergraduate students design and construct the MeznSat, which will be used to collect and analyse data on carbon dioxide and methane levels around the UAE. The project seeks to realise the space agency’s strategic goals of capacity development, promoting scientific research and coordinating national space sector activities.
Monitoring the atmosphere
Once in orbit, the team of students will then monitor, process and analyse the data from a ground station in the UAE. The processes and expertise involved in monitoring the atmosphere are similar to those employed during conventional earth observation programmes. The project will support Emirati young people in developing the skillsets necessary for the UAE’s ambitious National Space Programme and its future projects.
Using a visible camera, as well as a shortwave infrared spectrometer, the satellite will measure the abundance and distribution of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It will also provide valuable insight into the concentration of nutrients in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf, which will allow for more accurate predictions of algal blooms and support the timely implementation of relevant precautionary measures.