(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) KhalifaSat, the first UAE-made Earth observation satellite, will provide high-resolution terrestrial images to suit the requirements of various local and international government and private entities beginning early next year.
The remote satellite imagery captured with a spatial resolution of 70cm - meaning each pixel represents 70cm of the ground photographed - will be vital for urban planning, environmental studies and disaster management, including detecting oil spills and monitoring land contamination, engineers at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the manufacturer of KhalifaSat, said at a press conference on Monday.
Meera Al Shamsi, head of remote sensing application unit at MBRSC, said: "For urban applications, we will provide entities with analysis reports to show changes of certain projects over a period of time. We can also provide features detecting vegetation, water and roads to help them facilitate their work."
"This means, instead of sending someone on the field to gather information about a certain project, these entities can just utilise the satellite data to get that information," she added.
While orbiting the Earth at a speed of 7km per second at an altitude of 613km, the images that will be captured by KhalifaSat will also benefit several disaster relief organisations. They can receive satellite data of affected areas, which are not possible to obtain on the ground, within a matter of hours or days, depending on the type of the disaster and available satellite resources.
"In partnership with Sentinel Asia (an agency that promotes international cooperation to monitor natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region), we can support our international and local partners with satellite images of the affected areas to facilitate the deployment of rescue teams accordingly," Al Shamsi explained.
She added: "the satellite data that will be obtained KhalifaSat can also offer invaluable aid in the water resource management of the UAE. We can provide analysis of the vegetation in various seasons and send images of water resource availability."
KhalifaSat will also observe international environmental changes in support of global environment protection. According to MBRSC, KhalifaSat will provide detailed imagery of the ice caps at the North and South Poles to help detect the effects of global warming.
"The whole point of the KhalifaSat project is to serve our communities, government entities, and educational and research institutions. We also support a knowledge-based economy by providing them with resources for their research and development (R & D)," Al Shamsi added.
According to MBRSC, the focus of KhalifaSat for now will be on R & D as there is no mandate for it to generate income. Images of the Earth will be provided for free to local government entities and universities. Commercial use for international partners will be determined later as per the Centre policy.
Local and international entities that will directly benefit from KhalifaSat
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority
Roads and Transport Authority
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
UAE Supreme Council for National Security - National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority
UAE Ministry of Energy and Industry
UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment
Department of Municipal Affairs - Al Ain Municipality
Bahrain National Space Science Agency
International Charter: Space and Major Disasters
First pic snapped by KhalifaSat
Days before the launch KhalifaSat, excitement ran high as to what will be the first image that will be sent by the remote-sensing satellite from space.
Pundits and journalists said Palm Jumeirah was the obvious choice and they were right.
On October 31 at 1.32pm, KhalifaSat passed over Dubai and took a snap of the iconic 5.72km tree-shaped man-made archipelago, known for its posh hotels and apartments, at an altitude of 613km.
Engineers at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) presented to the media on Monday the first official photo taken by the KhalifaSat, after its successful launch from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan on October 29.
Ammar Al Mheiri, manager of image processing at Mohammed bin Rashid Centre, said the Palm Jumeirah photo was taken with a 70cm resolution, which means each pixel of the photograph represents 70cm of the ground photographed.
"The first photo appeared dark but we processed it and the satellite image revealed clear pciture of the sand, water, vegetation, establishment and cars at Palm Jumeirah," according to Al Mheiri.
"We can even detect the size and type of car but we can not detect the plate as the picture was taken from atop. KhalifaSat also beamed test shots of the Arabian Gulf and the World Islands but they were not processed as they appeared too dark," Al Mheiri added.
The proud Emirati team presented the photo of Palm Jumeirah taken by KhalifaSat to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of MBRSC, on Saturday at Za'abeel Palace in Dubai.
"This is the fruit of our 12 years of labour (the UAE started its space programme when Sheikh Mohammed signed a decree in February 2006 creating the Emirates Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, the precursor of MBRSC). At that moment (launch of KhalifaSat), all our hard work through the years flashed back and we celebrated the proud moment for the UAE," said Abdullah Harmoul, KhalifaSat launch project manager.