In July 2014, the UAE leadership announced the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission project by the President of the UAE. HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a decree establishing the UAE Space Agency. This initiated work on developing the first Arabic-Islamic probe to be sent to Mars. The probe will be built by an Emirati team of engineers and experts and will be sent on a scientific voyage of discovery to the Red Planet. This will mark the Arab world's entry into the era of space exploration and place the UAE among the major scientific countries that have begun programmes to explore Mars. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced: "We chose the epic challenge of reaching Mars because epic challenges inspire us and motivate us. The moment we stop taking on such challenges is the moment we stop moving forward.”
In May 2015, at a major media ceremony held at Al Bahr Palace in Dubai and attended by international and Arab media, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sent out a message to the world announcing that the UAE's Mars mission probe will be carrying the hopes and dreams of the Arab world to achieve a prosperous cultural and scientific future. It is only appropriate that Hope is its name.
The UAE gets ready to enter the global space exploration race in 2021 through the Emirates Mars Mission project
MBRSC is now building and developing Hope Probe – the first Arab probe to be launched to explore an exoplanet. MBRSC was entrusted with the design and manufacturing of the Hope Probe, which has been based on the centre’s scientific expertise and knowledge as well as its prominent achievements during its course of work. The Emirates Mars Mission is funded by the UAE Space Agency. It will also supervise the complete execution process of the Hope Probe, which will be sent to explore the Red Planet by 2020. Following a journey of several months, the probe is expected to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UAE.
Once it enters Mars’ orbit, the Hope Probe will mark the UAE’s official entry to the global race of space exploration. The Emirates Mars Mission project aims to build a local scientific and technical renaissance in the UAE and the Arab world and to enrich human knowledge. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum explained: “This mission will send three important messages. The first is for the world – that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge and will play that role again. The second is to our Arab brethren – that nothing is impossible and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge. The third is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks – set no limits to your ambitions, and you can reach space.”
The Hope Probe will be a compact, hexagonal-section spacecraft. Built from aluminium, it will be stiff but lightweight and surfaced with a strong composite face-sheet. Weighing approximately 1,500 kg, it will have three solar panels to generate power. The solar panel arrays will be folded flat against the sides of the spacecraft when it launched, and they will unfold once the spacecraft is in orbit. It is equipped with a computer and sophisticated software that can manoeuvre it into Mars’ orbit autonomously. It will have a digital camera that will send back high-resolution colour images and an infra-red spectrometer, which will examine temperature patterns, ice, water vapour and dust in the atmosphere. It also will have an ultraviolet spectrometer which will study the upper atmosphere and traces of oxygen and hydrogen further out into space. The probe will also include a high-gain antenna with a 1.5m wide dish that will communicate with Mission Control on Earth.
The Hope Probe will launch in 2020, but the probe’s design, development, manufacturing, and testing are expected to be complete before the launch date. That will ensure its capability to travel up to 60 million kilometres on a nine-month journey to Mars.
The Emirates Mars Mission project will answer scientific questions that have long puzzled scientists. These are questions about the Red Planet, which scientists have not been able to explain before because of the lack of data and information. The project will cover all aspects that have not been previously covered, whether scientific or knowledge-based, and it will work on drawing a clear and comprehensive picture of the Martian climate and the causes of the corrosion of its surface that has made it impossible for water to exist on the planet. The project will also provide insights about the weather on the Red Planet. It will observe weather phenomena such as dust storms and changes in temperature and how the atmosphere interacts with topography, from the highest volcano peaks to ice sheets to the vast deserts and the deepest canyons.
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