UAE’s third miniature satellite set to be launched from Russia

MeznSat will gather data on greenhouse gases over the Emirates

A miniature satellite developed by university students in the UAE will launch from Russia on Monday.

MeznSat, a three-unit CubeSat, will lift-off at 3.20pm Gulf Standard Time, onboard a Russian Soyuz 2.1b rocket from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

Built by students at Khalifa University and American University of Ras Al Khaimah, the mini satellite will be used to study greenhouse gases over the Emirates.

Once it is in orbit, a team of students will monitor, process and analyse the data from the ground station in Yahsat Space Lab at Khalifa University and AURAK.

It will be the third CubeSat launched by the UAE, after Nayif-1 in 2017 and MySat-1 in 2018. Both were one-unit CubeSats, which are generic, lightweight and based on a standard model.

MeznSat’s payload, the Argus 2000 spectrometer, will be able to detect concentrations of greenhouse gases over the UAE, specifically carbon dioxide and methane.

The State of the Environment Report for Abu Dhabi highlighted the Emirates’ vulnerabilities associated with climate change, principally coastal flooding associated with sea-level rises, the increased salinity of coastal aquifers, heat stress and changes to the marine environment.

The report also said extreme weather events such as floods and droughts, dust storms and the risk from airborne contaminants such as pesticides were caused by climate change.

“Climate change has widely been attributed to the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of human activities,” the UAE Space Agency said on its website.

“The impacts of climate change are expected to include shortage of water quantity and quality in most arid and semi-arid areas, and low agricultural productivity throughout the tropics and subtropics, accompanied by damage to ecosystems and biodiversity in these areas and changes in forests and other ecosystems.”

The agency said the level of methane and carbon dioxide emissions need to be addressed and monitored to effectively reduce the impact of climate change.

MeznSat’s secondary scientific objective will be to predict algal bloom.

It will use its RGB (red, blue, green) camera and spectrometer to estimate the concentration of total suspended matter in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf.

The UAE has hired the services of Exolaunch, a German company that offers launches for nano and small satellites, to send MeznSat into space.

MeznSat will take off with 18 other nanosats on board.

UAE playing a growing role in space sector: