Network launched to monitor space debris in UAE skies

His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, during the launch of the UAE Meteor Monitoring Network. — Wam
His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, during the launch of the UAE Meteor Monitoring Network. - Wam

Sharjah - Several meteorites have been found on the UAE soil in the past, including one that fell in Abu Dhabi this March.



By Sarwat Nasir

Published: Wed 29 May 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 May 2019, 10:06 PM

A network to monitor space debris in the UAE skies has been launched by the country's space authorities.
The UAE Space Agency has launched the UAE Meteor Monitoring Network (UAEMMN) in collaboration with the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences (SCASS). It will include three monitoring towers in different parts of the country.
The network has been launched just a few months after tight laws and regulations were announced in regards to space activity in the UAE. Khaleej Times reported previously that owning, mining for, selling or buying meteors in the country without permission from authorities is punishable by law.
Several meteorites have been found on the UAE soil in the past, including one that fell in Abu Dhabi this March.
Aisha Abdulla Alowais, research assistant at the SCASS, said: "It (the network) includes three towers at different locations of the UAE. The first one is at the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences and Technology, the second one is in Al Yahar in Al Ain and the third is in Liwa in Abu Dhabi. Each tower consists of 17 cameras that covers all directions. Since September 2018 until May 2019, the network observed around 9,500 meteors."
Space debris includes any kind of object that comes from outside Earth, including meteorites, asteroids, man-made debris like satellite remnants or any other space rock. "The mission of the network is to monitor space debris in the UAE sky and to enable universities to benefit from the network's results to conduct studies related to meteors as well as to engage the public and have them aware about space debris," Alowais said.
"Monitoring meteors is an essential part in the field of space and astronomy due to the scientific importance those meteors hold when they are collected as meteorites. The UAEMMN is part of the UAE 'Space Situational Awareness' (SSA)."
She added that meteorites do fall in the UAE "from time to time". However, mostly they fall in the desert as small rocks because they burn up in the atmosphere. If a meteor is big enough, its remnants will make it to ground, and the team can predict its possible landing location.
Over in Dubai, the Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre has more than 300 space rocks on display for visitors. The centre is looking to expand its meteorite lab, where space rocks can be legally traded, purchased and sold. Some of the meteorites at the centre are already available for purchase.
sarwat@khaleejtimes.com
 


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