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Dubai Municipality and MBRSC set to launch DMSat-1 satellite

Data collected from Dubai's first miniature environment-monitoring satellite will detect the source of air pollutants and concentration of dust and its impact on public health in the UAE.

Dubai Municipality, in collaboration with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), has announced that it is preparing to launch DMSat-1, the region’s first environmental nanometric satellite, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 20, 2021.

The rocket will be launched at 9:07 AM Moscow time (10:07 AM UAE time). The satellite is expected to separate from the launch vehicle into its orbit at 2:20 PM (UAE Time), and send its first signal at 3:00 PM (UAE Time).

The launch is part of a high-technology project undertaken to develop solutions to environmental challenges and address climate change.

Using state-of-the-art space technologies, DMSat-1 will monitor, collect and analyse environmental data as well as it will measure air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The environmental satellite will also help create maps of the concentration and distribution of greenhouse gases in Dubai and the UAE and study seasonal changes in the presence of these gases.

Data provided by the satellite will be used in several areas including finding solutions to environmental challenges, developing long-term plans to address urban pollution and climate change and environmental forecasting in Dubai. This data will also help enhance the emirate’s role in developing quality projects and pioneering research in the domain of climate change.

Weighing 15 kilograms, the DMSat-1 satellite contains three scientific instruments. The primary instrument is a multispectral polarimeter used to monitor air quality and detect fine particles in the atmosphere while the secondary instrument consists of a pair of spectrometers to detect greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4)).

Overseen by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, the project was implemented in collaboration with local and international research teams. Based on Dubai Municipality’s requirements, MBRSC built the satellite in collaboration with the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto, which has a successful history of launching satellites similar to DMSat-1. MBRSC is also managing launch-related activities and developing advanced solutions to utilise the data generated by the mission. The Centre will continue to support the project by managing the provision of data generated by the project to the Dubai Municipality.

A team of specialised engineers and project supervisors from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre have been based at the launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan since 25 February 2021. The satellite was placed on the launch rocket on 7 March 2021 for initial preparations and tests were conducted up until March 12th, the last day of inspection of instruments before launch.

The satellite, which was manufactured in 18 months, will be capable of covering an area of up to 80,000 square kilometres each day. Data will be stored on the onboard storage system and downloaded to MBRSC’s ground station. Over a period of three to five days, the satellite will monitor a single site more than once from seven different angles. The satellite operates in three bands – blue, red and infrared. It will orbit the earth 14 times a day and will pass over the MBRSC ground station four to five times a day to receive new imaging orders and enable downloading of data.

The launch of the satellite strengthens the UAE’s implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, which requires the country to generate data on greenhouse gas emissions and build national capacities to study global warming. On a local level, the DMSat-1 seeks to calculate the rate of carbon dioxide emissions in relation to GDP as outlined in the Dubai 2021 Plan, study the environmental impact of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the results of the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 as well as contribute to the ‘National System for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Management’ that is part of the National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050.