How can a small nation within the Middle East with a mixed inhabitants of simply 9.6 million launch a mission to Mars?
That’s precisely what’s going to occur on the July 15, 2020 when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will launch its Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)—carrying a probe referred to as “Hope”—to start a seven month-long journey to the Red Planet.
What is the Emirates Mars Mission?
It’s a Mars orbiter that was developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, UAE in partnership with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics on the University of Colorado, Boulder. The orbiter will attain Mars in February 2021 and start learning the Martian ambiance in late 2021. It goals to construct the primary full image of Mars’ local weather all through the Martian 12 months.
The UAE authorities’s nationwide goal is to achieve Mars by December 2021—the tip of the nation’s 50th anniversary.
How is the UAE reacting to EMM?
The UAE is getting excited. “It’s coming at a difficult time for everyone so it’s been refreshing news,” mentioned Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and Deputy Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, to Forbes. “We’ve had a flood of questions about the project from students, about the science and how they can get involved … we’ve had to take another look at gatherings for launch events, but we’re looking to do something online.”
The impact of COVID-19 on preparations
Thanks to some prescient just-in-case planning for a pandemic-like situation, the mission has made its approach from the Middle East and is now on the launchpad in Japan prepared for launch. “We’re in the launch campaign phase—the spacecraft is fuelled and ready for launch,” mentioned Omran Sharaf, Project Lead for the Emirates Mars Mission, to Forbes. “We had to ship it earlier than scheduled because of COVID-19 and split the team, basing some of them in Japan for four months.”
EMM’s launch window
The launch window for EMM opens on July 15, 2020 and closes on August three, 2020. Miss that and it’s not possible to achieve Mars. The total mission would then must be delayed till September 2022.
Why is the UAE going to Mars?
Although the mission will fill gaps in planetary scientists’ information of how the Martian local weather have an effect on its ambiance. However, the UAE may be very clear that its house program is definitely not about house, however about its financial system. “Reaching Mars is not the main objective here—this is about strengthening our knowledge economy by making it more innovative, creative and competitive,” mentioned Sharaf. “It’s about the post-oil economy.”
The UAE at present produces about 2.9 million barrels of oil per day. It’s consequently the third-richest nation on the planet (beneath Luxembourg and neigboring Qatar), however its determined to maneuver past the petroleum and petrochemicals industries it’s targeted completely on for too lengthy. “When this mission was announced back in 2014, the UAE didn’t have a council for science, a minister for science, or a platform for incubating and nurturing the scientific community,” mentioned Sharaf. “Now we have all that.”
“The UAE government made it clear from day one that space is a tool for much bigger goals,” mentioned Sharaf. “This is about causing a big disruptive change in the system that integrates science and technology into the UAE’s economy, but we’ll have to wait for 10-15 years to see the impact.”
EMM comes as a part of the UAE’s wider house program that dates again to 2006; three of the UAE’s satellites already orbit Earth.
Could EMM fail?
Sure. “This mission is five times more complex than previous missions we’ve worked on at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre—it takes us to the next level,” mentioned Sharaf, who’s below no illusions.
“Let’s be honest here—50% of missions to Mars fail,” he mentioned. “The journey is risky—one mistake in your trajectory and you’re going to miss Mars. A single mistake in the launcher makes it all go away. We also have to cope with 15-20 minutes delay in communication with the spacecraft, so it needs to be fully autonomous and resolve issues on its own.” That’s wholly not like Earth-orbiting satellites, which operators can have real-time contact with.
How does ‘Hope’ examine to NASA’s Maven mission?
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft went into orbit round Mars in 2014 to check the construction and composition of the planet’s higher ambiance. Specifically, the lack of its oxygen and hydrogen due to the photo voltaic wind. Hope will add a brand new dimension. “We know that there are dust storms, clouds, and seasonal cycles on Mars, but there hasn’t been is a mission that has provided a comprehensive view of the weather system across all regions of the planet across all times of the day,” mentioned Al Amri.
What Hope will do is to see what function Mars itself performs in local weather change and the lack of its ambiance.
Hope will be capable of accumulate information from the identical places at totally different occasions of day and season, and from additional out for a extra world perspective. “Hope will better categorize all regions of Mars across an entire day,” mentioned Al Amri. “We know from Earth that weather is dynamic and changes from hour to hour—that’s the gap that the Emirates Mars Mission fills with regard to planetary science.”
The information collected by Hope can be made freely out there to the scientific group.
Will there be different UAE missions to Mars?
“It’s not a one-off—it’s part of a bigger UAE national space program that will be focused on missions around Earth and beyond,” mentioned Sharaf. However it’s speculated to be sustainable—and meaning low-cost. “This is out first outer space mission and that there are a lot of challenges. So for now we’re trying to focus on this one.”
Wishing you clear skies and extensive eyes.