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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed discuss space in Dubai meeting

Sarah Al Amiri updates UAE leaders on Hope probe's journey to Mars

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, met in Dubai on Monday to discuss the UAE's space exploration programme.

Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, briefed the leaders on the Hope probe's journey to Mars, as the spacecraft nears the Red Planet.

"We are nine days away from the arrival of the Hope probe to Mars and from recording the first Arab and Islamic presence at the Red Planet," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"We will be the fifth country in history to reach the Red Planet. The success rate for entering Mars's orbit is 50 per cent but we have achieved 90 per cent of our goals behind this historic project."

Sheikh Mohamed said he and the Vice President were proud of everyone involved in the mission.

The probe has a 50 per cent chance of successfully entering Mars’ orbit, but we have achieved 90 per cent of our goals behind this historic project

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid

"My brother Mohammed bin Rashid and I discussed our national achievements, particularly in space and science, and our pride in the nation’s youth," he said.

"We learnt from Sarah Al Amiri about the progress of the Hope probe as it nears Mars. We wish you all success on this historic journey.

"The Emirates Mars Mission embodies the aspirations that distinguish your country and reflects our leading status in the Arab and Islamic world.

"Through our journey to Mars, we will explore new horizons towards a better future.

"Our investment in the human capital proved worthwhile as we see our youth capable of reaching the stars.

"We are proud of our people and we look forward to making a historic contribution to serve humanity."

Sheikh Mohamed also shared a video recounting the country's space ambitions, beginning with Founding Father Sheikh Zayed's meeting with three American astronauts in 1976, then moving to the launch of Hope last July.

The voices of both leaders can be heard over the video, praising the work of the country's engineers and space experts for realising those ambitions.

"The Hope probe is nearing Mars. Congratulations to everyone on the occasion of the historic Emirati mission to Mars," Sheikh Mohammed said.

The UAE-made probe is expected to reach Mars on February 9. It will be the start of one of the most complex phases of its journey, with one shot at making the planet's orbit.

Communication between the probe and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre's mission control room will be delayed by 11 minutes because of the distance between Earth and Mars.

But communications will cease entirely when the spacecraft moves behind the Red Planet.

Engineers will need to wait up to 30 minutes before communication is restored and they will know if the mission was successful or not.

More than 50 per cent of Mars missions fail, and only an Indian probe has successfully entered Mars's orbit on a maiden flight.

If successful, Hope will spend 40 hours in what is known as the capture orbit before it transfers into the science orbit, where it will spend two years collecting data on the planet.

Monday's meeting, at Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve, was attended by a high-level delegation that also included: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai; Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai; Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed, National Security Adviser; and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority.

Updated: February 2, 2021 08:31 AM

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