UAE plans to send unmanned Mars mission in 2021

Artist's concept of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s concept of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Buoyant over India’s success, the United Arab Emirates wants to become the first Arab nation to send an unmanned Mars mission in 2021 with similar objective to study the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The project named Al Amal, which means “Hope” in Arabic, was revealed at an official event attended by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, vice-president and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

“Our science mission is to produce the first ever truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere. This is the first holistic study of the Martian climate and how the layers of atmosphere fit together,” Gulf News quoted Omran Sharaf, Emirates Mars Mission project manager, as saying on a video.

A purely Emirati team composed of 150 engineers and scientists, will work on the mission, which they hope to be ready by July 2020.

“We have to be ready by then (July 2020). There is no second chance. It’s a race against time,” Sharaf said. The spacecraft will be launched in the nose cone of a rocket. The journey to Mars will take around seven months,” Sharaf said.

“Scientists on earth will use the data that will be sent by the probe to build a complete dynamic picture of the Martian climate. This is something that has never been seen before,” Said the Dubai ruler.

The data collected by the probe will be made available to universities and research institutes, he added. To begin with, a UAE space agency will be created soon in preparation for the mission. It remains to be seen whether ambitious Iran would also announce similar plans.


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