The UAE is set to launch a miniature environment-monitoring satellite on March 20. It will measure air quality and marine conditions in the country.
A Soyuz 2.1a rocket will carry the 15-kilogram nanosatellite, called DMSat-1, into low-Earth orbit, it was confirmed by Russian space agency Roscosmos.
It will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in an area of southern Kazakhstan leased to Russia.
Dubai Municipality and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre signed an agreement in 2016 to develop the nanosat.
DMSat-1 will be placed at an orbit 730km above the Earth's surface and will monitor aerosols and greenhouse gases over the UAE's atmosphere.
The satellite is one among a cluster of small payloads from 18 countries – also including Saudi Arabia and Tunisia – that will be delivered into space on board the rocket. The main payload is South Korea's CAS500-1 spacecraft.
DMSat-1 will measure the main sources of pollution in the country by studying air quality and the footprint of greenhouse gases.
Solar panels will power the nanosat, which includes two on-board computers and a GPS.
The main scientific instrument is DMSat-1's polarimeter imager, which will collect data.
The findings will help Dubai Municipality and the space centre develop an air quality model, which could potentially reveal the source of harmful emissions.
It is expected that the data will help the UAE’s fight against climate change and add value to ongoing research.
How is the UAE’s air quality?
Environmentalists across the world have long been campaigning to improve air quality.
The UN has reported that air pollution is a major environmental threat. Each year, 6.5 million people die from exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution, while nine out of 10 people breathe contaminated air.
It harms the climate and a person's health, as it leads to conditions such as strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and acute and chronic respiratory diseases.
Dry climate conditions in the UAE, sandstorms and harmful emissions affect the country’s air quality.
The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said improving air quality is one of the main agenda of the UAE's Vision 2021 set of government goals.
To achieve this, the ministry is working on transitioning to a green economy, increasing use of clean energy in different fields and expanding the air quality control network.