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Space Tech Expo Bremen - 2021 Nov

Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre uses AWS Ground Station to support UAE and global industry development

KhalifaSat image of California wildfires in 2020; Credits: MBRSC

When wildfires broke out across northern and central California in August, a remote-sensing Earth observation satellite watched 381 miles (613 kilometers) above the planet’s surface. Built entirely in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), KhalifaSat captured imagery that could help governmental agencies and first responders monitor and assess the impact of the destructive blazes. To help KhalifaSat maintain continual coverage, MBRSC uses cloud services from Amazon Web Services (AWS) including AWS Ground Station.

Dubai-based MBRSC advances space science and advanced technology using data from UAE satellites and various applications related to space science to support development of various industry sectors within the UAE and across the globe. The UAE, which prioritizes space science and scientific research in the region, uses Earth imagery sent back from their satellites to support multiple organizations. The data is used to support natural disaster management, rescue mission updates, and support environmental health monitoring and land planning.

Launched in October 2018, KhalifaSat was the first satellite in low-Earth orbit (LEO) that was completely innovated, built, and produced in the UAE, by a team of skilled Emirati engineers. KhalifaSat is a remote-sensing Earth observation satellite that orbits Earth every 98.1 minutes and provides high-resolution satellite images that help monitor critical conditions on Earth, such as droughts and wildfires. Equipped with the latest in space and imaging equipment, KhalifaSat is more agile than its predecessors; DubaiSat-1 launched in 2009 and DubaiSat-2 launched in 2013.

MBRSC uses AWS Ground Station to downlink Earth observation data from KhalifaSat along with AWS storage and compute capabilities to quickly transport satellite imagery so that first responders have the actionable information they need to help them protect and save human lives and natural resources.

Eng. Adnan Alrais, senior director remote sensing department at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said, “The KhalifaSat is one of the most advanced Earth imaging satellites from the region, and has played an important role in providing high-resolution images for a number of organizations worldwide. By using AWS Ground Station, we have been able to download satellite data at reduced cost and time, which in turn has allowed quick turnaround of analysis and insights for our clients. We look forward to further optimizing our services through this partnership and scale our operations to deliver value to our customers.”

MBRSC wanted to make sure it could schedule contacts for KhalifaSat customers at times requested. Installing more ground station equipment, such as satellite dishes and data compute, processing, and storage resources on premises increases capital expenditures. With AWS Ground Station and AWS storage and compute services, MBRSC can provide customers scheduling availability and accelerate their satellite data downlinks from KhalifaSat. AWS Ground Station also helps MBRSC provide customers continual monitoring, so they can assess changes in conditions, such as the spread of wildfires.

MBRSC KhalifaSat architecture; Credits:AWS

To do this, AWS Ground Station delivers satellite data in near-real time directly into the cloud using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). MBRSC then captures the data, which is automatically uploaded to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for storage and retrieval from any location around the world. MBRSC uses AWS Ground Station’s multiple global locations to increase the volume and reduce the latency of acquisition of their satellite data. AWS Ground Station provides MBRSC greater efficiencies by enabling the automation of satellite acquisition workflows, which helps the space agency avoid high-cost expenses associated with bespoke on-premises ground station infrastructure.

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