Kazakh girls launch nanosatellites to analyse air pollution in Turkestan

UNICEF Kazakhstan, jointly with Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, launched nanosatellites.

01 October 2022
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2022/Marabeey
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2022/Marabeey

TURKESTAN, October 1, 2022 – Today, Kazakhstani girls participating in a joint educational program developed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University launched two ultramodern UniSat nanosatellites into the upper atmosphere of Turkestan. 

The Unisat Nano-satellite Educational Programme for Girls (UniSat) is an educational program hosted by UNICEF Kazakhstan and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The UniSat program aims to increase female students’ knowledge of and competencies in nanosatellite development while improving their teamwork, public speaking, time management and creative skills. The program aims to eliminate gender stereotypes and increase the representation of girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It does this by promoting transferable STEM skills to increase the employability and overall confidence of women seeking to break into this industry. 

Around the world, young women are underrepresented in STEM programs and careers. Further, girls are often discouraged from pursuing STEM from an early age due to preconceived notions about gender roles. Gender stereotypes and cultural norms dictating what jobs are "right" for women frequently discourage girls from choosing STEM subjects at all levels of education and, as such, pursuing STEM careers. Across Central Asia, the number of girls and young women enrolled in STEM programs is significantly lower than that of their male peers. The UniSat program promotes STEM education among Kazakhstani schoolgirls by providing satellite technology training and practical implementation through the creation of nanosatellites.

Nanosatellites are a class of small spacecraft whose weight does not exceed 10 kg. Today, nanosatellites are being developed at many of the world’s leading universities and commercial organizations. UniSat satellites are designed for educational purposes. They have several cameras, including one with the potential to take a 4K resolution elliptical image of the earth. The nanosatellites’ sensors collect data on radiation, pressure, gravity, light and gas composition before sending large amounts of data, videos and images back to Earth for analysis.

As part of the launch, all girls – with the support of mentors – will learn how to process the environmental flight data obtained by the nanosatellites. The girls will also learn how to visualize the data and write final mission reports. All data analysis will take place at the UniSat Hub, which opened yesterday at the Schoolchildren’s Palace in Turkestan. The data obtained by nanosatellites can be used for both scientific and practical purposes. 

“It is our first launch in the Turkestan region, and we are very happy that the UniSat project is scaling up and continuing to develop. Just yesterday, UNICEF and its partners opened a unique scientific educational hub in the Schoolchildren’s Palace focused on developing engineering skills in the field of satellite technology. Innovation, skills development, and the promotion of gender equality are very important to UNICEF. We believe that the development of the UniSat educational program will not only popularize STEM among girls, but also bring an enormous changein the society,” said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan. 

Before the launch, all girls took an online UniSat course and participated in a 3-day practical marathon where they gained knowledge and skills in areas including 3D modeling, control unit program design, and software and hardware development. The participants programmed the UniSat nanosatellite subsystems and tested them in laboratory conditions before the launch.

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 Alakija.

For more information about UNEGP, visit UniSat’s website at https://unisat. kz/.


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UNICEF works to ensure the rights and well-being of every child. Together with its partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information on UNICEF's work, visit www.unicef.org. Subscribe to our InstagramFacebook and Twitter accounts.


Al-Farabi Kazakh National University

Al-Farabi Kazakh National University is Kazakhstan’s flagship university designed to train competitive and highly qualified personnel. KazNU Technopark specializes in designing research equipment for applied and fundamental research in natural and technical sciences including, but not limited to, physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology.


Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares is an international charitable organization 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 UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030. For more information about Dubai Cares and its work, visit https://www. dubaicares. ae/


Ms. Nazanin Alakija is a humanitarian and philanthropist deeply committed to three areas: education, the empowerment of women and girls, and the environment. She believes that a sustainable, prosperous and just world is within reach if we give women and girls the education they deserve and lead communities toward an environmentally sustainable future. 

Ms. Alakija’s humanitarian work focuses on identifying and deploying solutions to address the negative impact of climate change on low-income populations, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDP’s). She invests in long-term solutions, such as drilling wells using solar energy as part of UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in northeastern Nigeria.

During the ongoing conflict in Yemen, she raised funds for UNICEF and critical emergency aid, including food, medicine, and psychosocial care.