The Light-1 nanosatellite will study terrestrial gamma ray flashes from thunderstorms, such as this one seen here in a file photo of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai silhouetted against the night sky during a thunderstorm
The Light-1 nanosatellite will study terrestrial gamma ray flashes from thunderstorms, such as this one seen here in a file photo of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai silhouetted against the night sky during a thunderstorm. Photo for illustrative use only. Image Credit: Nadia Saleem/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The joint UAE-Bahraini nanosatellite ‘Light-1’ will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday on a SpaceX CRS-24 flight on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

After reaching its orbit around Earth, Light-1 will monitor and study terrestrial gamma ray flashes from thunderstorms and cumulus clouds. It will be the first study of its kind in the region. New York University Abu Dhabi will be leading the science data analysis aspect for this mission.

The launch will take place after undergoing safety and environmental tests for thermal, vibration, and communication systems, among other tests. Light-1 will then be deployed from the Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) at ISS under supervision from the Japanese Aerospace Space Agency (JAXA).

Joint project

The nanosatellite was built and designed in collaboration between the UAE Space Agency and Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA). The project was executed at Khalifa University and New York University Abu Dhabi.

Light-1 is a nanosatellite, but it is no different from other larger satellites in terms of the technology or technical expertise required to build or launch it. It is also a cube satellite that consists of three units and is often referred to as a 3U CubeSat.

Light-1’s name was inspired by the book ‘The First Light’ by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. It recounts key points in Bahrain’s history and the name symbolises the country’s growth and scientific progress.

The research spacecraft was developed by leading Bahraini and Emirati engineers and scientists working from labs in the UAE. The team is made up of 23 students, including nine Bahrainis and 14 Emiratis from Khalifa University and NYU Abu Dhabi.

In addition to the joint Light-1 satellite, the Khalifa University of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi supports the capacity building of NSSA staff by including them in key projects. This has helped train and upskill talent in space field.

The partnership between the UAE Space Agency and NSSA will also see the UAE Space Agency participate at Bahrain International Airshow 2022.