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The blueprints and science goals for the first Arab mission to Mars have been revealed by Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
The Emirates Mars Mission probe, named ‘Hope’, will create mankind’s first integrated model of the Red Planet’s atmosphere.
The unmanned probe will leave Earth in 2020 on a mission designed to complement the science work of other missions and fill important gaps in human knowledge. Its unique orbits and instruments produce entirely new types of data on Martian climate dynamics to be shared with the global science community.
HH Al Maktoum added, “The Emirates Mars Mission will be a great contribution to human knowledge, a milestone for Arab civilisation, and a real investment for future generations. This probe represents hope for millions of young Arabs looking for a better future.”
The data will enable scientists to build the first truly holistic models of the Martian atmosphere. Such models may help the global Mars science community to unlock more mysteries of the Red Planet, such as why its atmosphere has been decaying into space to the point that it is now too thin for liquid water to exist on the surface, according to scientists.
The Emirates Mars Mission spacecraft will be a compact, hexagonal-section spacecraft. Built from aluminium in a stiff but lightweight honeycomb structure and surfaced with a strong composite face-sheet, its overall size and weight are comparable to a small car: it will weigh approximately 1,500 kg including fuel, and measure 2.37 metres wide and 2.9 metres tall.
Besides deepening human knowledge about Mars, the climate models will help scientists understand changes in Earth’s atmosphere over millions of years. The data will also help researchers evaluate the atmospheres of thousands of newly discovered planets far across the galaxy, to determine which have an atmosphere capable of supporting life.
The probe will orbit the Red Planet until at least 2023, with an option to extend the mission until 2025. It is expected to send back more than 1,000GB of data to be analysed by research teams in the UAE and shared with more than 200 institutions worldwide, according to HH Al Maktoum.
The Ruler of Dubai went on to say that the Emirates Mars Mission would leave behind a major legacy on Earth, because the mission was being planned and managed in the UAE by a 100 per cent emirati team. “In this way, it is designed as a catalyst for a new generation of Arab scientists and engineers, and as an anchor project for the growing science and space sectors.”