UAE'S HOPE PROBE MARS MISSION: First Arab Mission in Space
On 2 December 1971, the Soviet Union’s Mars 3 spacecraft carried out the first successful landing on the surface of Mars. And on that same day, millions of miles away back on Earth, one of the newest space-faring nations – the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – was born. Now, almost half a century later, the UAE is about to launch its own spacecraft to Mars. It is called ‘Hope’.
The name is not a wishful expression, although all space missions require faith that they will reach their destination. Rather, Hope is a signal of optimism to young people in the Emirates and beyond, of what can be achieved when people come together and work on a scientific challenge
If you haven’t heard about the UAE mission to Mars, the chances are that you’ve probably been on Mars yourself – and thus have been unable to pick up a newspaper or watch TV. But it’s true, the UAE, a nation which is just 46 years old, is gearing up to send a probe to Mars in 2020, on a voyage of scientific discovery. It may seem ambitious for such a young nation with very little history in science or engineering, but one thing the UAE has in abundance is a strong desire to progress and become one of the world’s leading nations in the fields of technology and innovation – as it moves on from a previous economic dependence upon oil and into a new era of knowledge and creativity.
Here are the five things you really need to know about the Emirates Mars Mission:
1. The probe was called Hope as a clear message to the Arab world
It was His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who announced the name of the probe. On announcing ‘Hope’, he said: “This probe represents hope for millions of young Arabs looking for a better future. There is no future, no achievement, no life without hope. The Emirates Mars Mission will be a great contribution to human knowledge, a milestone for Arab civilisation, and a real investment for future generations.”
2. The average age of the team working on the mission is just 27
The team of engineers working on developing the Emirates Mars Mission at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, are the youngest team ever to have worked on a deep space mission anywhere in the world.
3. The probe will arrive at Mars in 2021 – the 50th year of the union
In 2015, the target was laid down for the talented engineers working on the UAE mission to Mars by UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khlaifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. His only deadline, was that the probe must arrive at Mars by the year 2021, in time to celebrate the union of the seven emirates which make up UAE. This gave the team just seven years to get to Mars – most missions take more than 10.
4. The probe will study the Martian atmosphere
The Hope Probe will conduct analysis on the lower and upper atmospheres on the Red Planet, hoping to uncover crucial data which gives insight in to why the atmosphere on Mars is escaping to space, making the Red Planet barren and inhospitable. It will also study the weather through the seasons – day and night; something that has never been studied before.
5. The objectives are not just about science – far from it
There is far more to the Emirates Mars Mission than science. The mission will build Emirate’s capabilities in deep space exploration and technology, and will help develop knowledge in the country to contribute to an economy no longer dependent upon oil. It will also enhance the UAE’s reputation and standing among more powerful and established nations in space, helping to start new partnerships and relationships. Finally, it is hoped the mission will kick start a move towards science and engineering for students in the UAE – something which has already started to happen, three years in advance of the launch date.