The UAE has revealed a number of details including the name and objectives about its unmanned mission to Mars in a presentation made by the Emirates Mars Mission.
The probe, named Hope, will mainly study the red planet’s atmosphere and will help the scientific community to glean more knowledge about Mars, especially on why its atmosphere has been decaying over a period of time making it unsuitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.
The unmanned probe will leave Earth in 2020 and will complement the work of other missions and fill important gaps in human knowledge, the Emirates Mars Mission said.
The data collected through the probe will also help climate scientists understand changes in Earth’s atmosphere over millions of years.
In addition, such knowledge will also help space scientists to evaluate the atmospheres of many other newly discovered planets far across the galaxy and determine which of them may have an atmosphere that could support extra-terrestrial life.
The UAE’s probe will be a compact spacecraft, similar to the size and weight of a small car. It will blast off in a launcher rocket, then detach and accelerate into deep space. It will subsequently reach a speed of 126,000 kilometres per hour for the 600 million km journey around the sun to Mars, which will take around 200 days.
Once it reaches its destination, the probe will orbit the Red Planet until at least 2023, with an option to extend the mission until 2025.
It will send back more than 1000 GB of data to be analysed by teams of researchers in the UAE, and shared freely with more than 200 institutions worldwide for the benefit of space scientists.
The Emirates Mars Mission team currently comprises 75 Emirati engineers and researchers and is expected to grow to more than 150 by 2020.
“This probe represents hope for millions of young Arabs looking for a better future,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, UAE VP, PM and Dubai ruler.
“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.”
The UAE is also the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to study the outer space. In order to achieve this mission, the Gulf country has also taken various steps such as establishing a space agency and partnering with other space research centres such as NASA to share knowledge and expertise.