Emirati students given chance to work on Emirates Mars Mission

A handful of graduates will work with expert Emirati engineers in the UAE and abroad

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 30, 2019.  
Public lecture from a project manager of the UAE’s Mission to Mars programme by Omran Sharaf at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. 
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  John Dennehy
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Emirati students are getting a once in a lifetime chance to work with the Emirates Mars Mission.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is now accepting applications for its elite “research experience for undergraduates programme", or REU.

It runs for several months in the summer and successful students will gain critical experience in programming and data analysis under the supervision of the MBRSC team, along with the chance to work in the United States and France.

The handful of Emiratis selected — who must be studying science or engineering — will conduct research that could prove vital for the landmark mission that will see a probe named Amal, translated from Arabic as Hope, blast off in July next year and reach the surface of Mars by 2021.

It will be the first mission to Mars by any Arab or Muslim majority country and will fall in the same year the UAE celebrates its 50th birthday.

More than 100 Emirati engineers have been working on the project in partnership with universities in the US.

“The students' participation in the Hope Probe's scientific mission, through the REU 2020, will help them acquire the necessary skills in analysing data on the Red Planet,” said Hessa Al Matrooshi of the MBRSC.

It is hoped that some of those who participate in the programme will go on to forge careers in the UAE's rapidly expanding space sector. Hazza Al Mansoori became the first Emirati in space this year and a second astronaut programme was launched a few days ago.

Maj Al Mansoori’s achievement followed a series of successful satellite launches over the past few years that put the UAE in the world’s vanguard of space exploration.

“Over the past years the [REU] programme has proven successful in preparing highly-qualified Emirati cadres to participate in the Hope Probe mission,” said Omran Sharaf, project manager of the Hope probe.

“This edition of REU will be very special as it goes in parallel with the launch of Hope to Mars."

The REU programme is now in its sixth year and so far, about 30 Emirati students have worked on projects such as how to support life in space, studying the atmosphere and the search for water.

The deadline for applications is January 1 and the programme is open to Emirati students in their first, second or final year with more than one semester left to graduate. Anyone interested can email reu@mbrsc.ae