Girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan launched nanosatellites into the stratosphere for air pollution analysis

Three nanosatellites were created and launched into the stratosphere as part of a joint project between UNICEF and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU)

27 March 2022
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2022/Salamat Ayazbay
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2022/Salamat Ayazbay

March 28, 2022, Almaty/Bishkek/Tashkent – Today, more than 150 girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, participants of the UniSat (Uni stands for UNICEF, Sat stands for satellite) educational program, launched three ultra-modern nanosatellites into the stratosphere.

Nanosatellites are a class of small spacecraft whose weight does not exceed 10 kg. They are equipped with several cameras, one with potential to take an elliptical image of the Earth within 4K resolution. During the launch, UniSat nanosatellites allow to take stunning high-resolution images of the Earth and space. Sensors collect data on radiation, pressure, gravity, light and gas composition, and large amounts of data, video and images have been sent back to Earth for analysis. 

Today, nanosatellites are being developed in many of the world's leading universities and commercial organizations. UniSat satellites are designed for educational purposes.

“Today's launch is symbolic. It demonstrates the boundless potential of the girls and women of Central Asia. Their capabilities expand the boundaries of science and technology. This year we were able to include 2,000 participants from three countries and inspire them to continue their education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We believe that the results of the UniSat program will achieve high cosmic changes in society,” - said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

Nanosatellites were created by girls as part of a 10-day marathon at KazNU. UniSat participants mastered construction, design, programming, and assembling of spacecraft. They were able to visit the Center for Space Technologies and Remote Sensing of the Earth. The theoretical knowledge gained by the girls was immediately put into practice. Under the guidance of trainers, they designed the bodies of the nanosatellites using 3D modelling and 3D printed them. The girls also programmed the subsystems of the UniSat nanosatellites and tested them in the laboratory before the launch.

“In Kyrgyzstan, only 1 out of 3 girls aged 15-19 have computer literacy, and more than 80 percent of girls choose social and human sciences. The question is to what extent this reflects girls’ professional interest and aspirations?  Therefore, in 2020 UNICEF launched the “Girls in Science” program to help girls expand their professional horizons, overcome gender stereotypes and make their career choices. Since then, more than 10,000 girls join the initiative annually and more girls gain confidence in developing a scientific career. Building on this, the event on launching the nanosatellites is not only the result of two-years work, but great inspiration for the potential of girls and our youth,” - said Yulia Oleinik, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Kyrgyzstan.

Participants were selected from 2,000 girls who had previously taken the UniSat online course, available through this link: UniSat educational programme for girls (UNEPG).  Processing of flight data on the environment received by the nanosatellites during the launch, visualization of data, preparation of a mission report and the use of data for scientific and practical purposes were included into UNICEF - KazNU joint online course. The girls were able to learn teamwork skills, the basics of Linux programming, and listen to leading Kazakh experts in the field of aerospace technology. Active course participants got the opportunity to take part in a practical marathon and launch their nanosatellites into the sky.

“In Uzbekistan, as in other countries of the world, for various reasons, there remains a significant gap between boys and girls in the areas of computer literacy, technical education and careers. UniSat's educational program aims to bridge this gap by engaging and educating girls in relevant science and technology skills. UniSat will help draw the attention of the general public to the gender issue in technology areas among the youth of Uzbekistan. We are sure that by their example the participants of this project will inspire their peers to believe in themselves. They show by personal example that girls can be successful in any field,” - said Munir Mammadzade, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan.

UniSat is an educational program of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The aim of the UniSat program is to develop the knowledge and competencies of girls in the nanosatellite construction, as well as to improve skills such as teamwork, public speaking, time management and creativity.

The UniSat programme is implemented with the support of the UAE-based civil society organization “Dubai Cares”, Clé de Peau Beauté brand and philanthropist Ms. Nazanin Alakia.

 

Notes to editors:

Additional information about the project is available on the UniSat website: https://unisat.kz/

Media contacts

Elvira Yausheva
Communication Specialist
UNICEF
Tel: +7 778 021 19 12

About UNICEF

UNICEF works to ensure the rights and well-being of every child. Together with its partners, UNICEF is working in 190 countries and territories around the world to make its commitments a reality, with a particular focus on reaching the most disadvantaged and excluded children; for the benefit of children, in all corners of the world. Details about UNICEF activities at www.unicef.org. Follow our pages on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

 

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University is the flagship of the country's university system for the preparation of competitive highly qualified personnel. KazNU has specialized research equipment for applied and fundamental research in the field of natural and technical sciences (physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology and many others).

 

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares is an international charity founded in 2007 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister, Vice President of the UAE and Emir of Dubai. The organization plays a key role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and advance lifelong learning by 2030. For more information about Dubai Cares and its work, please visit: https://www.dubaicares.ae/

 

Naza Alakija is a humanitarian and philanthropist deeply committed to three areas of impact: education, the empowerment of women & girls, and the environment. She believes a sustainable, prosperous, and equitable world is within our grasp, if we can provide women and girls with the education they deserve, and lead communities towards an environmentally resilient future. 

Naza’s humanitarian work is firstly dedicated to identifying and deploying solutions to address the negative impacts of climate change, for low-income communities, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). She invests in long-term solutions, such as solar- powered boreholes through UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) section, in Northeastern Nigeria. During the ongoing conflict in Yemen, she has raised funding for emergency care aid including food, medical supplies and psychosocial care, as well as for UNICEF.