DUBAI — Images of the holy cities of Makkah, Madina and Al Quds have been beamed from outer space by DubaiSat-1, the UAE-owned and -operated earth observation satellite.
The pan-sharpened, multi-spectral images show the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Al Quds.
The three holy cities receive a large number of worshippers and pilgrims during Ramadan. Saudi Arabia alone expects around four million pilgrims during this Ramadan and infrastructure in Makkah and Madina is constantly being upgraded to facilitate convenient accommodation and movement of pilgrims. The high spatial resolution images relayed by DubaiSat-1 are a valuable resource in infrastructure planning and development. The satellite images complement existing Geographic Information System (GIS) databases and enable more efficient monitoring of environmental changes and natural hazards in addition to identifying water quality in the Gulf.
DubaiSat-1 was a joint project between the UAE and South Korea, developed with a major focus on knowledge transfer to the UAE team that participated in building the satellite. The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) had launched DubaiSat-1 in July 2009, and since then, the satellite has been transmitting images that are of great value in several areas.
The EIAST is currently working on DubaiSat-2, a joint development programme with the Satrec Initiative of South Korea. Sixteen UAE engineers, currently stationed in South Korea, have been working on the design, development, testing and manufacturing of the satellite.
The participation of UAE engineers in the project has increased by 100 per cent compared to DubaiSat-1 and it is hoped DubaiSat-2 will take the EIAST to the next level in satellite development.
DubaiSat-2 will be launched onboard a Dnepr Rocket through the Moscow-based International Space Company Kosmotras (ISCK) from Yasny Cosmodrome in Russia by the fourth quarter of 2012, as part of a clustered launch, in which DubaiSat-2 will be the primary satellite onboard.