A satellite that American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) students are assisting to develop, build and test is scheduled for launch on a Soyuz-2 rocket from Russia in June 2020, stated Dr. Abdul-Halim Jallad, Director and Assistant Professor, Center of Information, Communication and Networking Education and Innovation (ICONET).
The MeznSat Nano-satellite is crafted to detect greenhouse gas concentrations from an orbit of 565 kilometers above the Earth.
The project has successfully passed the Critical Design Review stage with the satellite presently undergoing the last stages of construction in the purpose-built clean room at AURAK’s Space Lab before it moves on to the testing phase in March 2020.
The project is a collaboration between the UAE Space Agency, AURAK and Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUST).
MeznSat will be the first student-built scientific satellite in the UAE. The project objectives at offering the UAE space industry with qualified well-trained graduates through hands-on experience, while at the same time opening windows for advanced space-oriented research relevant to the UAE.
The project has seen undergraduate students design and builds the MeznSat which will be used to collect and analyze data on carbon dioxide and methane levels around the UAE. The project seeks to realize the Space Agency’s strategic aims of capacity development, promoting scientific research and coordinating national space sector activities.
Once in orbit, the team of students will then monitors, process and analyze 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 programs. The project will support Emirati youth in developing the skill sets essential for the UAE’s ambitious National Space Program 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 offer valuable insight into the concentration of nutrients in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf, which will permit for more correct predictions of algal blooms and supports the well-timed enforcement of associated safety measures.