UAlberta Research in Your Life

Ex-Alta 1:
Alberta's first satellite                    

Alberta was ushered into the space age by UAlberta undergraduate and graduate students, working under the guidance of engineering and science professors. The team designed and built the province’s first satellite, named Ex-Alta 1.

Ex-Alta1 is part of the European Union’s QB50 project deploying a network of cube satellites, built by university students from 28 countries, into Earth’s largely unexplored lower atmosphere. The satellites' mission is to gather data and monitor space weather—the powerful bursts of solar wind that represents a threat to trillions of dollars of communications and power infrastructure here on Earth.

Studying space weather and solar flares
Ex-Alta 1 was successfully launched into space from the International Space Station on May 2017, and is now orbiting Earth. In September 2017, it captured information about a major solar flare, valuable data that could help predict such occurrences.

New satellite to help predict forest fires
The AlbertaSat team is now working on Ex-Alta 2. This satellite will monitor ground conditions searching for hot dry spots on the ground to help predict where forest fires might start. Ex-Alta 2 will also be able to examine aerosol particles (smoke) to track fires. This method can be better than a thermal hot spot for finding a fire’s point of origin in its early stages.
The team has nearly completed Ex-Alta 2’s critical design review. It should be built and ready for launch within two years.

New company spawned
In 2016, a core group of Ex-Alta 1 team members launched Edmonton-based start-up company, called Promethean Labs. The company specializes in reliable, fast, and affordable artificial intelligence powered remote sensing analytics and visualization for precision agriculture and sustainable forestry management. The company plans to launch their first satellite in late 2018.