Lift-off for student-designed satellite that will monitor greenhouse gases
The satellite is scheduled to reach orbit next November - a month after its launch.
The UAE's first environmental satellite, which was developed by university students, blasted off to space at 3.20pm on Monday.
Developed by 30 students from Khalifa University (KU) and the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), MeznSat was carried by a Soyuz-2 rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia. The satellite is scheduled to reach orbit next November - a month after its launch.
Once in orbit, the satellite will measure the gases that have been causing the rise in temperature on Earth and detect the highest concentrations of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane in the atmosphere.
A team of students will monitor, process and analyse the data that MeznSat will be sending to the ground station at KU's Yahsat laboratory and the supporting station at AURAK.
The students have worked on the satellite for three years, from designing it to its development, testing and verification. Two months ago, the team successfully completed several environmental tests that include the final fit checks, the thermal vacuum test, and the vibration test.
The satellite has two payloads on board; a shortwave infrared spectrometer covering wavelengths ranging from 1,000-1,650 nanometres and an RGB digital camera that can take coloured images of Earth. A nanosatellite, MeznSat weighs around 2.7kg, and measures 10cm by 10cm by 30cm.
Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, director General of the UAE Space Agency (UAESA), stressed that MeznSat's take-off was a testament to the UAE youth's ability and potential to turn the country's space exploration ambitions into reality.
"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."
With a team of experienced engineers involved, the programme aimed to transfer knowledge from the space sector to the students. It showed the academe's capability to complete long-term projects in an educational set-up, allowing students to turn their knowledge into practice.
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