UAEU students experience what it is like to train as an astronaut in Japan

UAEU students experience what it is like to train as an astronaut in Japan


The UAEU Supernova space team, Lamia Al Marzooqi, Ameereh Seyedzadeh, Aisha Al Yahyaai, and Shamma Al Kalbani from the Mechanical Engineering Department at UAEU’s College of Engineering have just returned from an exciting, all expenses paid, two-week trip to Japan, arranged by the UAE Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Their first-place-prize visit started on the first day of 2017, and lasted until 14 January. The first twelve days were spent participating as pioneers on a CanSat program in Chiba and Wakayama, followed by two days in Nagoya for a parabolic flight, in which they experienced the feeling of weightlessness, as an astronaut would in space.

The CanSat program taught them about system engineering, project management and new methods of space education, and on it they launched three different types of rockets, ranging from a simple one to a hybrid rocket. After that, they had the once in a lifetime opportunity to join a parabolic flight experiment, used for training astronauts and conducting short-duration scientific research on reduced gravity. During the flight, the gravity increased to 2g, then, for about 20 seconds, they experienced near-zero, or microgravity. This experience was repeated six times.

The four female students, from the UAEU College of Engineering, earned first place in the UAE Space Agency sponsored Ideathon competition in Abu Dhabi, on November 10, 2016. They beat competitors from the best universities in the UAE.

Teams of four students from UAE University, Masdar Institute, Khalifa University, American University of Sharjah and New York University Abu Dhabi brainstormed and presented ideas on how to utilize space technology, particularly satellites, in order to solve real life challenges faced by the country. The ideas were then presented to a jury of experts and specialists from universities in Japan.

Their winning idea was to utilize a large number of small or nano-satellites to find lost aircraft, by enabling better resolution imaging for the sky of the UAE. This would enable the tracking of planes around the country. Their idea included the creation of an online 3D imaging system like Google Maps, but for the sky, to create a high-resolution online monitoring system for UAE airspace. The system would detect irregularities such as smoke, sudden changes in elevation or speed, or the direction of planes. With this, the UAE government could have better control its airspace.  It would help in rescue missions by achieving a quick response and determining the exact location of lost planes.  The tool would also help detect any unknown aircraft crossing UAE airspace, or moving at a higher elevation not detected by land radars. 

Speaking on behalf of her team, Lamia Al Marzooqi said that the achievement of winning first place as representatives of UAEU among the best universities in the country made them immensely proud. “Our strong determination is a result of being raised by UAE leaders who have worked hard to achieve number one in various fields on a global scale. Nothing can please us more than dedicating all our effort to serve our beloved country, UAE.”

She added, “Participating as young Emirati space pioneers in CanSat and the parabolic flight program in Japan was a wonderful experience that will always be remembered due to the hands-on training sessions in building and launching rockets from leading Japanese experts. It’s hard to put in words how much we enjoyed being part of this program since we learned so many things from this trip beside the knowledge we gained from the educational aspect. We are looking forward to implementing the knowledge we gained to serve our country and share our experience with other students and encourage them to participate in similar competitions whenever they get the opportunity.”

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