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News Article

Mexican Space Agency and UNAM to Develop, Launch Satellites

By Alicia Arizpe | Mon, 08/17/2020 - 13:13

The Mexican Space Agency (AEM) signed a strategic alliance for the joint development of space projects and satellites with the country’s largest academic institution, UNAM. The agreement will promote the education of highly trained professionals and the development of technology for space research and exploration.

AEM ramps up its efforts to develop state-of-the-art technology that accelerates Mexico’s technological capabilities. The alliance with UNAM will allow both institutions to join forces for the development of miniaturized satellites to test new technology, intersatellite communications and land observation. The agency has already worked with other Mexican universities in the development of miniaturized satellites, including the successful launch in December 2019 of the first fully Mexican satellite, the AzTechSat-1, built by students from Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP). AEM is also working with the space agencies of many European, Asian and American countries in research projects and in the development of new technology. For instance, AEM is working with NASA in the development and launch of the next generation of AzTechSat nanosatellites. These small low-earth-orbit satellites, often called CubeSat, have been used in testing of space technologies, commercial applications, Earth observation, radio and research projects by countries across the globe. The NanoSat Database estimates that by April 2020, 1,210 CubeSats had been launched with hundreds of new launches planned in the coming years.

Beyond developing new technology and supporting numerous research projects, AEM’s alliance with UNAM also aims to train highly specialized professionals and increase awareness among the general public of the benefits space activities bring to the Mexican population. Satellite technology has a broad range of applications outside of telecommunications, such as support to food security efforts and agriculture through field monitoring and management using satellite images. AEM explained that through its alliance with UNAM, both institutions will work together in the use of satellite technology to monitor agriculture, natural disasters, climate change, mining exploration and oil and gas activities.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer