The United Arab Emirates will launch today its first environmental nanosatellite which was developed by students of Khalifa University (KU) and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah(AURAK). As part of the UAE Space Agency’s efforts to drive experiential learning in universities, MeznSat will be carried to a low Earth orbit altitude of 575km from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia by a Soyuz-2 rocket at 13:20 CET, 15:20 UAE time.
The students successfully completed several environmental tests two months prior to the launch that includes the final fit checks, the thermal vacuum test, and the vibration test signaling the satellite’s readiness for launch. The satellite’s design and development involved 30 students across both universities and was completed over three years.
In addition, they worked on preparing the satellite’s laboratory, developing the work plan, and manufacturing key parts of the satellite such as the payload and the ground station.
This program demonstrated the ability to complete long-term projects within an educational setup that provided students with a unique opportunity to convert learned knowledge into practice. The program aimed to transfer knowledge from the space sector to the students and involved a team of experienced engineers from some of the leading programs in the space sector.
The satellite will measure and detect the most prevalent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane. The growing release of these gases into the atmosphere causes a rise in temperature on Earth. The satellite has two payloads on board; a shortwave infrared spectrometer covering wavelengths ranging from 1,000-1,650 nanometres and an RBG digital camera that can take colored images of Earth. A nanosatellite, MeznSat weighs around 2.7kg, and measures 10cm x 10cm x 30cm.
His Excellency Dr Eng Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of UAESA, stressed that MeznSat’s imminent take-off on schedule testified to the ability of UAE’s youth as well as the potential of students majoring in STEM subjects to translate the UAE’s space exploration ambitions into.