UAE’s mini satellite MeznSat successfully launched into space

A Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket carrying the nanosat lifted-off on Monday

A miniature satellite that will monitor greenhouse gases over UAE was successfully launched into space on Monday.

MeznSat lifted-off on board a Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia at 3.20pm Gulf Standard Time.

The nanosat, weighing 2.7 kilograms, will be carried to the low Earth orbit altitude of 575km and the first signal is expected to come about eight hours after launch if the nanosat remains 'healthy and alive'.

Developed by university students in the UAE, the nanosatellite will detect gases such as carbon dioxide and methane over the Emirates to help scientists reduce the impact of climate change.

The satellite was launched into the skies along with 18 other CubeSats.

It was built by students at the Khalifa University and American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) and funded by the UAE Space Agency.

"It is an honour for me to be part of developing our national nanosatellite programme," Abdulla Almesmari, a PhD student in mechanical engineering at Khalifa University who assisted with the testing and integration of MeznSat, told The National.

“MeznSat is a remarkable achievement for us, since it is the first UAE CubeSat with a 3-unit platform, carrying the short-wave infrared spectrometre. Looking forward to receive the first beacon from MeznSat.”

Maryam Saeed Al Nuaimi, an AURAK student who worked on the CubeSat’s programming, said: ”I am happy and proud of the success of the launch. Finally, MeznSat in space. We are waiting for the first contact.”

Students will use the YahSat Space Lab in Khalifa University as the primary ground station to process and analyse the nanosat’s data, as well as the ground station in AURAK.

MeznSat is the third CubeSat to be launched by the UAE, after Nayif-1 in 2017 and MySat-1 in 2018.

This is the first 3-unit nanosat to be built by the UAE, meaning it features more systems than the previous one-unit versions. MeznSat has the Argus 2000 spectrometre and RGB (red, green, blue) camera.

Both of these will be used for greenhouse gas monitoring, as well as predicting algal bloom. It will estimate the concentration of total suspended matter in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf.

“These projects seek to develop national capabilities and enhance scientific research in universities, bringing up a new generation of Emirati engineers ready to join in the space sector,” said Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency (UAESA).

“This direction by UAESA aligns with the keen interest of the wise UAE leadership in engaging the youth in scientific projects and giving them the experience needed for the job market.”

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, executive vice-president of Khalifa University, said their students plan on developing three more nanosatellites in the future.

These include the MySat-2 and Light-1 CubeSats.

“Our students have the opportunity to contribute to these projects during their studies,” he said.

“Their research innovations will have a great impact on the future of the UAE’s space sector. We look forward to witnessing similar achievements, as we provide our students with an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities."

Sarah Al Amiri, the president of UAESA, also congratulated the university students on the successful launch.

She said experience-based learning helps prepare students for the job market.

"We would like to congratulate all the students and professors on this great achievement," said Ms Al Amiri.

"We are proud to see national capabilities designing, developing, and manufacturing satellites that will have an impact on UAE’s space sector."

UAESA used the commercial services of Exolaunch to launch MeznSat.

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