As previously announced on Newspoint, a three-year collaboration between the Space Consultative Committee based at the Ministry for Research, Innovation and the Co-Ordination of post COVID-19 Strategy and the University of Malta's Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy led to the first-ever space-faring object being launched from the Maltese Islands with the aim of researching the Maltese and Mediterranean stratosphere.
Last Friday, 13 August 2021, as the sun set over Malta, the STRATOS-1 balloon was launched from Esplora at Villa Bighi as it soared 37km above the Maltese islands.
The balloon is equipped with a GPS device and camera collecting real time information about the atmospheric conditions, the depth of the seas and the health of its vegetation to provide one of the island's first hyperspectral images transmitting accurate readings. The device marks the position of the spacial balloon in areas where there is no mobile phone coverage as it descends.
This historic milestone was also featured through the eyes of an animated character, Sara the Scientist, who is curious to get a better understanding of the island's plants and surrounding areas.
Director of Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy Prof. Kristian Zarb Adami said, “We want to inspire young children to embark on a career in sciences while evoking their curiosity about our celestial wonders."
Minister for Research, Innovation and post-COVID-19 Strategy, Hon. Owen Bonnici said “This space-related research project marks a commitment towards this sector, not only in the scientific research field, but also as a stepping stone towards attracting foreign and local talent to work in this sector. Together with experts in the field, the government is putting together a space strategy to implement a framework in which a space ecosystem can grow and flourish.”
The Ministry will be sponsoring a PhD, which will look into the information gathered from this launch and produce scientifically significant data from the stratosphere.