Zimbabwe plans to launch its first satellite in February 2022. The CubeSat will host a multi-spectral camera and an image classification tool, as well as a device to transmit and receive signals from radio amateurs.
ZIMSAT-1 is the latest mission from the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) project, a multi-national programme to help countries build their first satellite.
ZIMSAT-1 was built by Zimbabwean engineers working with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan and will be launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. In addition to the satellite, BIRDS supports a free app (BIRDS-NEST) with which satellite images from ZIMSAT-1 can be downloaded onto smartphones.
ZIMSAT-1 is a single CubeSat and part of the Birds-5 mission. BIRDS-5 project is the fifth project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan. The amateur payload is an automatic packet reporting system (APRS) operating on 145.825 MHz for both receiving and transmitting signals. The satellite will collect solar illumination measurements from remote sensors and forward the data to the ground stations.
The satellite images taken by off-the-shelf multi-spectral camera with a spatial resolution of 100m will be used to investigate land use covering crop health, soil adjusted vegetation index, cultivated area and chlorophyll index. The satellite classifies the images based on machine learning algorithms and downlinks the results on 435,375 MHz. This improves the efficiency of the data downlink process. A large CubeSat image data set will also be created for future machine learning applications.