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Dubai Airshow: Emiratis have Mars in their eyes

Posted 19 November 2019 · Add Comment

Plans for the UAE’s Mars ‘Hope’ probe were outlined at the ‘Women in Space’ conference on the second day of the show.

 

The Arab world’s first probe to the Red Planet is due to blast off in 2020 and reach Mars in 2021, in time for the 50th anniversary of the UAE.

The rocket must leave Earth during a brief “launch window” in July 2020 – no ifs, no buts.

Salem Humaid Al Marri, assistant director general for science and technology at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), said: “Once in orbit, Hope, which was named after a public campaign, will explore the Martian atmosphere using scientific instruments that include visible, infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers.”

It will also study the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with outer space and the solar wind.

The route to Hope has been arduous – the MBRSC has now launched four satellites and the last one, KhalifaSat, was the first to be a fully Emirati-built project.

But the Martian probe is a whole new ball game in terms of its complexity.

Its data should help scientists build a holistic model of the planet’s daily and seasonal cycles, and may explain why Mars lost a lot of its atmosphere to space.

The Martian atmosphere is now 95% toxic carbon dioxide at minus 55 degrees Celsius on an average day. The planet’s low pressure means liquid water can’t exist for more than a few minutes.

The UAE joined forces with many academic organisations around the world for the Hope probe, including the University of Colorado, Arizona State University and the University of Berkeley in California.

Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, Minister of State for advanced sciences, chair of the UAE council of scientists, and deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, said it has so far taken seven years to develop and train the science researchers who will make use of Hope’s data.

“We initiated a science research apprenticeship programme and awarded scholarships – people are currently studying for the Phds at universities,” Al Amiri said. “We need to launch in 2020. We have no choice if we are to make it to Mars in 2021,” she adde

But the UAE’s Martian plans don’t stop there.

It has also declared that it aims to establish the first inhabitable human settlement on the Red Planet by 2117.

The Mars 2117 Project is set to be developed and executed in partnership with major international scientific research institutions.

A Mars habitat, which will comprise a series of futuristic domes, is to be built next to MBRSC in Dubai and form part of a new Mars Scientific City, including a visitor centre and space museum.

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