Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, paid tribute to the UAE’s Mars Mission team on Tuesday.
They honoured the Emirati engineers responsible for sending the Hope probe to the Red Planet, on the first day of a government retreat to form a 50-year development plan for the country.
More than 200 engineers attended Bab Al Shams arena for a special reception to hear from the Dubai Ruler and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince.
“Celebrating the Hope Probe team as part of the ministerial retreat is a message that our projects over the next 50 years will be as ambitious as the Emirates Mars Mission,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“The Hope Probe is the best gift to dedicate to the people of the UAE on the 50th anniversary of our country.”
Sheikh Mohammed said millions of Arabs felt a sense of belonging and pride as they watched the spacecraft reach its destination.
“Today, our scientists and experts are the real champions who will drive the journey of our country towards further achievements, excellence and success.
“Our people are known for their humility and persistence. Their feet are on the ground, but their ambitions reach the sky,” he said.
Sheikh Mohamed described the Hope probe team as the “wealth of our nation”.
“Our young people made us proud, raised our country’s flag to deep space and engraved the name of our nation in history,” he said.
He said the aim of the mission was not only to reach Mars, but to “empower our people with knowledge and confidence and nurture capabilities to lead the country to the top”.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior; and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, also attended the event.
Hope was conceived as an idea in 2013, during a Cabinet retreat on Sir Bani Yas Island to discuss ways to celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary. The space project was adopted to capture the UAE’s journey over half a century.
In six years, young experts and scientists designed and manufactured the probe, in partnership with international universities and science institutions, in half the time and for half the cost that are typical of Mars missions.
Hope was launched into space in July last year, when it began a seven-month journey to Mars.
On February 9, it arrived at its destination and entered the planet’s orbit, a complex manoeuvre with only a 50 per cent success rate.
The probe will spend the next two Earth years – one Martian year – collecting data and sending it back to Earth.
It will help scientists study why gases essential to supporting life are escaping the planet’s atmosphere, as well as weather dynamics.
The spacecraft will capture data using three instruments – infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, and an exploration imager.