Dubai launches its first environmental-monitoring satellite to orbit

On March 22, 2021, Dubai Municipality launched its first environmental satellite, DMSat-1, abode the Soyuz 2.1a space vehicle. The launch took off at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch complex in Kazakhstan.

Dubai Municipality developed DMSat-1 in partnership with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). The satellite carries state-of-the-art equipment that will be used to monitor environmental pollution and other parameters. Once the payload reached an altitude of 500km, the satellite sent signals to the MBRSC’s mission control center, indicating the spacecraft was in orbit, ready to commence the scientific mission.

The satellite will halt for a short time to allow MBRSC to test the subsystems and instruments before moving into the operational phase. At the active stage, DMSat-1 will gather environmental data and send it to the ground station. It will also measure air pollution by greenhouse gases (GHGs) which will inform the decisions of Dubai Municipality and United Arab Emirates (UAE) at large on the best mitigation measures to curb climate change.

DMSat-1 was designed and developed in Canada by the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto. A team of experts from MBRSC supervised creating this spacecraft and tested it before it was transferred to the launch complex in Kazakhstan.

At Baikonur Cosmodrome, another team from MBRSC groomed the satellite and ensured a smooth integration with the launch rocket. Once initial tests have been done remotely, the satellite will commence its mission which involves measuring greenhouse gases and monitoring seasonal changes of these GHGs.

“The launch of the DMSat-1 satellite will bring about a fundamental shift in the field of obtaining environmental data in the country and the region, as it contains the latest technologies in the field of monitoring air pollutants and greenhouse gases,” said Adnan AlRais, DMSat-1 program manager.

DMSat-1 program is one of Dubai Municipality initiatives aimed at cleaning the energy sector and ridding the economy of carbon emissions. It is one of the initiatives making up the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 that aims to have zero GHGs emissions by midcentury. The scientific mission also forms part of UAE’s National Plan for Climate Change 2017-2050. Data gathered by the 15-KG satellite will be stored on the onboard storage system. MBRSC team at the ground station will then download the information for analysis and interpretation.

DMSat-1 will monitor a single area for three to five days from different angles before proceeding to another site. The satellite will orbit the earth fourteen times a day, passing over the MBRSC at least four times. When it is overhead the MBRSC, the ground station team will roll out fresh imaging orders and download the captured data.

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