A group of Alberta university students is approaching the final countdown to launch a satellite project that could chart weather in space.

The Ex-Alta 1 satellite will launch Tuesday morning, with a goal of studying solar storms and flares.

Created by University of Alberta students, the cube-shaped satellite is 30 by 10 centimetres or roughly the size of a loaf of bread. The satellite is the first time a spacecraft has been built in the province, researchers say.

"The primary purpose of the satellite is to study the effects of the interactions by the energy of the sun and the earth's magnetic field," said Charles Nokes, the project manager, in an interview posted on the University of Alberta's website.

Solar flares and storms can cause costly and disruptive damage to electrical and electronic equipment on Earth. Nokes says the group hopes the project will help provide insight into how to create infrastructure that can withstand the damage from a solar flare.

The project started in 2010 as part of the Canadian Satellite Design Challenge.

"This is the first in our province and we hope to not be the last, but the beginning," said Carlos Lange, a mechanical engineering professor at the school.

The satellite is being launched as part of the QB50 project, which is launching 50 CubeSats built by university teams from around the world.

The Ex-Alta 1 will be one of 28 CubeSats delivered to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The satellites will then be launched from the ISS.

With files from the Canadian Press