UAE Space Agency Signs Deal With International Astronomy Centre To Set Up A Meteor Monitoring Network In Abu Dhabi

10 November 2015

The UAE Space Agency has announced an important deal with the International Astronomy Centre that will witness the setting up and management of a meteor monitoring and filming network, which will include a number of stations in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region and will all be ready before the end of next year.

The Agency explained that this joint project will provide substantial astronomical reports and data around meteor and satellite movements in space, including determining and tracking their coordinates, all of which will help support the dedicated scientific research being carried out in this field.

As part of the agreement, at least three monitoring stations will be built with the exact locations of each to be confirmed. Each station will contain special technology dedicated to space monitoring and there will be command and control centres set up that will receive information and analysis including mechanisms for the presentation of results.

The agreement was signed by HE Dr. Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency and Khalfan Al Nuaimi, General Manager of the International Astronomy Centre in Abu Dhabi.

The agreement states that the UAE Space Agency will be the representative for the UAE  Government with regards to issues of funding and supervision of the project, which was proposed by the International Astronomy Centre in Abu Dhabi.

Both parties hope that, through this agreement, the project will help raise awareness on space matters and meteor monitoring amongst students and citizens.

Dr. Rumaithi explained that this project falls under some of the Agency’s main tasks, which includes the development of the national space sector, the formulation of space policies, supporting the next generation of engineers and scientists, guiding national space programmes that will benefit the national economy and the development of human resources.

He also added that the monitoring of meteors supports the role of the UAE as well as other countries in the world in promoting space exploration and contributing to the global scientific space community.  

HE Eng. Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency commented: “This project will help contribute to raising awareness and the education of student and educational and academic institutions around the topics of astronomy and space."

Mr. Khalfan Al Nuaimi, CEO, International Astronomy Centre said: "Our partnership with the UAE Space Agency for the establishment of a network to monitor meteors is a key strategic project that will contribute to supporting the state towards developing the space sector and building a base of statistics and results that will without a doubt support the academic and research sectors.”

Al-Nuaimi added that “the International Astronomy Centre is of great importance for monitoring, space and astronomical observation and it strives to be the centre point of reference astronomically to the various institutions and relevant authorities and also aims to strengthen the links between the various local, regional and global astronomical entities.”

The agreement also provided for the establishment of a special website dedicated to the stations space monitoring stations. It will allow observers to see the pictures and scientific results arising from the project.

The agreement also included the details and obligations for the International Astronomy Centre within the project in terms of contracts with suppliers, supervising the framework according to the timeline set for the completion of monitoring stations, as well as playing a key role in contributing to raising  astronomical awareness in the community.

The mechanism for the monitoring network

The astronomical observation network consists of a number of cameras that film the meteors in space that then provide video clips.

Each station contains two cameras, the first one contains a lens known as "fish eye" which covers the sky with a wide angle and the second has a narrower vision. Each camera has a different purpose, the "fish-eye" lens allows the camera to capture the greatest number of meteors appearing in the sky but the results of the analysis of the captured video clips may be less accurate. The narrow lens will collect a smaller number of shots but the results of the analysis will be more precise. It will therefore be able to gain a clearer picture the meteors and asteroids. The

The cameras will also be able to mark the location of meteors with greater accuracy. .

The meteors observed vary in nature, for example some fade in the atmosphere before reaching the ground and others reach Earth and become known as meteorites and sometime satellite debris falls to the Earth too.