Ever since human kind discovered that Mars is one of the closest heavenly objects to us here on earth, it has fascinated and captivated us. It has been the dream of any nation's space program to travel to Mars and now the UAE is in the process of developing its own Mars program; the first for any nation in the Arab world. The mission is called Hope and it landing upon Mars is set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of UAE.
According to Elon Musk, in one hundred years, there could up to a million humans living on Mars. Now while that may seem to be in the realm of sci-fi, there have been many Mars missions over the years – some successful, some not. Out of the 56 Mars missions that have been initiated so far, only 26 have been successful; which is fewer than half.
This is the first time an Arab country is working towards reaching Mars. The Mars probe named Hope, will try to find out why Mars lost its atmosphere; which in turn will help us understand more about the earth’s atmosphere.
UAE’s Mars probe will be launched in July 2020, during the brief window of opportunity. Since Earth and Mars orbit the sun at different speeds, it is only once in every two years that the two planets are aligned. Since the plan is to have the probe reach Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE, this leaves very little margin for error.
Why did Mars lose its atmosphere when earlier it could sustain the existence of liquid water? Why is it so cold there now that water can only exist in the form of ice or vapour? The UAE probe is expected to bring us the first truly global picture of the planet's atmosphere as well as its famous dust storms. The Emirates Mars Mission team is coordinating with other scientists and Mars experts to try and bridge the gaps that exist in our understanding and knowledge of the Red Planet.
The team of scientists at the Science Data Center in the UAE will study the 1000 GB of data that the probe will send back, catalogue it and share it with the scientific community at large. The 75 strong Emirati team consists of various groups such as the Spacecraft group, Logistics, Mission Operation, Project Science Education and Outreach, Ground Station, and Launch Vehicle group.
It is the vision of the leaders of the UAE that the country will become among the top nations in aerospace in times to come. It revisits the ancient Arab tradition of stargazing and helps to contribute to the sum of human knowledge about the world that we live in. Hope Emirates Mars Mission is significant because it is indigenously developed and not outsourced. Practically speaking as well, space technology is now of great importance for the security and economy of nations; with navigation, broadcasting, telecommunications, weather forecasting all dependent upon this technology.
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