UAE Mini Satellite Challenge

UAE Space Agency in collaboration with Khalifa University, have devised a STEM oriented contest called UAE Mini Satellite Challenge: Design, Build, Launch UAE Mini Satellite Challenge provides the opportunity for students interested in the fields of engineering, material sciences, and physical sciences to develop technology applications and experiments that are exposed to the space environment and have a clear view of the Earth and universe. The winning team will test their technology on a 2U CubeSat platform deployed from the International Space Station. The challenge targets university undergraduate and graduate students.

For this year, NYUAD have won the competition with the most creative payload idea. The satellite would detect Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes (TGFs), these are sudden, powerful bursts of gamma ray radiation triggered by lightning. The new detector that will be flown on the spacecraft would be one of a kind, where it will overcome the issue of slow response in measuring these sub-millisecond duration bursts. The mission is unique where the payload would be also space-qualified for the first time and could be replicated so it can be deployed on a fleet of CubeSats to monitor global TGF activity. The knowledge of which thunderclouds could produce TGFs can be beneficial for the airline sector. In addition, a cost efficient detector which can be flown on small satellites and balloons could potentially be used for enforcement of nuclear test ban treaties and detecting the presence of illicit unclear weapons development.

A team from The National Space Science (NSSA) in Bahrain are working on developing the cubesat as well, hand in hand with the team here in the UAE. This will be their first ever Space project to work on. This comes as one of the UAE Space Agency’s initiatives in transferring knowledge and know-how to our dear neighboring countries in the GCC.

The cubesat is planned to be launched in Q2 of 2021 with the support of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) via their module and deployment system (KIBO).