© thales Business | January 24, 2017

Masdar Institute signs MoU with Thales

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology signed a MoU with French company Thales/Thales Alenia Space and French engineering university MINES ParisTech to develop applications for the Stratobus drone-satellite hybrid airship.
The collaborative agreement was signed by Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute, Cathy Noguez, Director International Affairs, Thales Alenia Space, Olivier Cousergue, Key Account Manager, Air Force/ Air Defence, THALES, and Prof. Thierry Ranchin, Director of the Center Observation, Impacts, and Energy, MINES ParisTech.

Stratobus is a type of aircraft currently being developed by Thales Alenia Space together with French and European partners. Functioning effectively as a hybrid between a drone and a satellite, Stratobus will be positioned at an altitude of about 20 kilometers over its theater of operations, in the lower layer of the stratosphere, where the air is sufficiently dense to lift the airship balloon and the winds are low. With its involvement in Stratobus project, Masdar Institute will advance its role in driving innovation in earth observation technologies to bring sustainable benefits, locally, regionally and globally.

The innovative airship will carry technical equipment that allows it to perform surveillance of borders or land or sea sites (video surveillance of offshore platforms, etc.), environmental monitoring (aerosols, pollution, water monitoring, etc.), climate change impacts (desertification process, plantations, aerosols, pollution, water monitoring, etc.) and provide telecommunications services (Internet, 5G). To be fully autonomous, Stratobus will incorporate innovative technologies such as high efficiency flexible solar cells supplying a strong electrical power on board. Thales Alenia Space and partners plan to launch the first qualification and certification flight in 2020.

Masdar Institute is actively engaged in several ongoing remote sensing research and development projects, and has successfully completed many others. The Institute is presently working on a diverse range of research projects with a special focus on deserts and arid climate such as urban heat island studies; monitoring oil spills, algal blooms, solar resources, and dust storms; national-level water budget; land-atmosphere interactions; modelling of hydro-meteorological variables; and climate change studies.

Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost of Masdar Institute, said: “Accurate and timely environmental monitoring is key to ensuring the wellbeing of the UAE and its people. In particular, our ability to observe and measure what is happening in the Arabian Gulf is critical, as it is a major source of our water, trade, tourism and food. StratobusTM represents an innovative way to enhance the UAE’s environmental monitoring ability and Masdar Institute is keen to be part of this exciting new interface of aerospace, communication, and environmental monitoring technologies.”

As per the agreement Masdar Institute will work to develop the environmental applications of Stratobus for the UAE. This first six-month phase of the project will focus on defining the needs of Stratobus’s UAE users. In the second phase, Masdar Institute will be tasked with interfacing with the various UAE users to define their environmental application needs, developing the detailed specifications and technical processes, and defining and developing the specific software algorithms to be included in the StratobusTM control centers, participating in the overall validation of the missions for the benefit of the UAE users.


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