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UAE space team unveils details of space object as it fell into Indian Ocean

posted on 14/11/2015: 2289 views

A joint UAE-international space team has revealed details of preliminary analysis and observing and filming of a space object as it fell into the Indian Ocean on Friday, about 50 km off the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Astronomers think the object is an old piece of space junk.

The co-operative mission comprised internationally renowned scientists, including two representatives each from the UAE Space Agency and the Abu Dhabi-based International Astronomy Centre, eight space scientists, experts, researchers and student from the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as scientists from a number of international space observatories.

The mission is an important twin milestone achievement for the UAE, represented by the UAE Space Agency and the Abu Dhabi-based International Astronomy Centre, since the UAE team was the only Arab team among the international space specialists and took the lead in uncovering preliminary facts about the space object, the first to be accurately monitored since it was discovered on 3rd October and filmed while hurtling to earth at 45,000 cubic feet, the highest altitude a plane can fly.

UAE space officials told a press conference at Al Bateen Airport that the joint international team tasked with filming the object and equipped with 23 cameras flew out of Abu Dhabi at 5:30 am and stayed in the air for 11 hours to complete the scientific mission in 30 minutes. The team observed the object for just a few seconds and monitored it for one and half minute before it fell into the Indian Ocean.

Dr. Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said the UAE's participation in this international space mission through the UAE Space Agency has positioned the UAE as a key, active actor in the world space industry, and comes in line with the country's strategic plans for the UAE space sector, which aims at enhancing and supporting scientific research in the field of Space.

"The Emirate's delegation and its participation in the observation efforts will highlight the country's position in the international space community, and support scientific discovery, which benefits the whole of humanity," Al Rumaithi added.

The UAE leadership, he indicated, had lent significant attention to this mission and provided facilities to ensure its success.

The mission has achieved its objectives and was completely successful, he noted.

On his part, Dr. Mohamed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency, said, "The studies and data collected while this object entered the Earth's atmosphere will be invaluable for our understanding of near earth space objects' movement and how they are affected by the various environmental factors.' The UAE members of the team said their camera was the first among 23 cameras of the whole team to observe and film the space object.

Mohammad Shawkat Odeh, Director of the Abu Dhabi based-International Astronomical Centre, explained that accurate results of the data analysis and observation of the space debris, which is estimated to be 1 to 3 meters in length, would be out in two to three weeks.

He said that initial analysis showed that the space object was revolving around itself in elliptical orbit behind the moon almost every 21 days and a half day and shuttled in a speed of 11 km a second after entering the atmosphere.

Members of the team said the international mission observed and monitored the object as it entered Earth's atmosphere in order to study it and its behaviour as it burned through the atmosphere in order to improve the models which allow scientists to predict the trajectory and behaviour of space objects that enter the Earth's atmosphere. These objects could be natural bodies such as asteroids and meteors, or artificial objects such as old or faulty satellites or remains of rockets and other manmade items that are generally referred to as Space Debris.

They thanked the Government of the UAE for providing whatever was needed by the joint team to ensure the mission a success.

They stated that the young space team of the UAE Space Agency and Abu Dhabi based-International Astronomical Centre had set a living example of how young space scientist would look in future. They have put on tremendous efforts which were clearly evident by their lead in unveiling early results of analysis of the space object.

On challenges they encountered during the mission, they said dense clouds was a major obstacle, however advanced equipment had managed to observe and monitor the object for three minutes after entering the earth atmosphere before burning out and scattered into pieces. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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