Emirati student engineers behind UAE's first environmental satellite MeznSat

MeznSat, Meet, Emirati student engineers, behind, UAE, first, environmental satellite,

Ras Al Khaimah - As the project manager for MeznSat, Alteneiji prepared the research, organised the implementation, and tracked the budget, among other tasks.


A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 28 Sep 2020, 4:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Sep 2020, 7:05 PM

For the Emirati student engineers who developed the UAE's first environmental satellite, MeznSat's liftoff today was a big dream that finally came true.
Thirty graduate and undergraduate students from the Khalifa University (KU) and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) worked on the MeznSat, which blasted off into space at 3.20pm today, September 28, from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.
Among them was Haya Rashed Alajjal, an Emirati industrial engineer. "I chipped in on this project to challenge myself, learn something new, and be part of something that makes you so proud of yourself."
When Alajjal joined the MeznSat team as a system engineer in 2018, she worked on a simulation using a space kit programme she knew nothing about. "I had to learn, take some classes, and search until I became a professional in using it."
She worked harder every time until liftoff day. "I'm looking forward to working in the space field, which I really enjoy," she said.
Once in orbit, MeznSat will measure the gases that have been causing the rise in temperature in Earth and detect the highest concentrations of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere.
Fatema AlAyyan, an electronics and communications engineer, was part of the software team that programmed the computer on board the satellite so it could achieve the mission's goals.
"I started working on it as my graduation project and I had been involved in the task for a year," AlAyyan said, adding that as an Emirati, she was grateful to have been part of the historic achievement.
"The UAE has exerted much effort to reach a high level of experience in the space industry. It's possible to have a MeznSat 2 or even more promising space missions," she said. "Our young generation has a high potential and intelligence. Nothing's impossible for Emiratis."
Maryam Saeed Alnuaimi also helped develop the MeznSat software as part of her graduation project.
"My task was to programme some of the modes. I am proud to be part of this amazing project which has developed my professional and personal skills," said Alnuaimi, an electronics and communications engineer who graduated from the AURAK in 2019.
"MeznSat was a great opportunity for me to learn about space and satellites, and I hope to be part of the Emirates Mars Mission."
Covid-19 not an obstacle
Hamda AlShehhi said she was particularly proud of how the team pulled off the historic project, even in the middle of a pandemic.
"The Covid-19 pandemic was not an obstacle. The entire place was always sterilised and remote communication was permanent," said AlShehhi, who earned her industrial engineering in 2018. As part of the MeznSat team, she developed management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient.
Another member of the team, Nouf Mohammed Ali Alteneiji, is an industrial engineering graduate who had the highest GPA at AURAK in 2017.
As the project manager for MeznSat, Alteneiji prepared the research, organised the implementation, and tracked the budget, among other tasks.
"I can't express my feeling in words. I feel so proud and lucky that I worked on the first scientific cubesat developed by UAE students. It's another important step forward to achieve the vision of the UAE's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan," she said.

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