Advanced Earth Observation Research Supported by KAUST’s Launch of High-Tech Satellites

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has successfully launched a small Cubesat satellite in partnership with cloud space data analytics firm Spire Global. This happened during the mission of the space shuttle “SpaceX Transporter-7”, launched from the Vandenberg Space Base in the United States. The satellite, which has been named “6U”, aims to collect high-quality and high-resolution data for terrestrial , coastal and oceanic environmental systems around the world to help the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia monitor and characterize its unique natural resources, which includes an advanced hyperspectral imaging camera, an advanced processing unit and a Spire Global Navigation Satellite sensor System (GNSS).

These technologies will help collect detailed data about the earth’s surface, such as the state of vegetation, soil and water. While the satellite’s primary mission is to photograph and collect data for the Arabian Peninsula and the surrounding area, it has the ability to collect information and images from anywhere on Earth.

Professor Matthew McCabe, Professor of Remote Sensing and Water Security and Director of the Climate and Livelihoods Initiative at KAUST, explained; The launch of this satellite by KAUST reflects the growing interest in the space sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, indicating that the Saudi Space Authority has ambitious plans to develop the local space economy in the future. Necessity calls to develop innovation and technology, train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and facilitate space exploration research in the Kingdom.

He stressed that the university has launched advanced technology on this satellite platform, which will allow it to collect high-resolution images of the earth’s surface and analyze them simultaneously, even before sending them to Earth.

And he indicated that the capability of this satellite is not just limited to enhancing Earth observation operations and research, but rather will produce data that can help achieve Saudi Vision 2030 goals, especially those related to protection and restoration. of the environment. For example, the hyperspectral imaging system on the Moon can be used to characterize terrestrial and marine systems, enabling assessment of the condition of grasslands, soils, mangroves and other plant communities, as well as providing data that can be used to understand, improve managing and monitoring the health of the region’s unique ecosystems.

McCabe stressed that the information provided by this satellite is “common knowledge and a shared social resource”. In particular, developing a community of scientists and collaborators who can access this data will bring unique global perspectives, providing insights and solutions to the local and regional problems we are trying to address.

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