With the hopes of the country, region and Arab and Muslim worlds behind it, details of the UAE's ambitious unmanned probe mission to Mars – driven largely by Emiratis – have been unveiled in Dubai by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
DUBAI // The UAE’s Mars mission probe will be carrying the hopes of the country and the region, so it is only appropriate that Hope is its name, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said on Wednesday.
“Sheikh Zayed was the hope of the UAE and the UAE is the hope of the region,” said Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. “Our generation is the hope of Arabs and Muslims, so the choice of the name for the probe is Hope.”
In Arabic, it is called Al Amal.
With 75 Emirati scientists and engineers taking part in the project, the UAE is preparing to become the first Arab country to send a mission to another planet.
“The mission will send three important messages,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “The first is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge and will play that role again.
“The second is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge.
“The third is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions and you can even reach space.”
The blueprints and mission goals were yesterday unveiled by local space experts.
“One man asked me how much it cost,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “I told him it is not a cost, it is an investment. Our goal here is to have a study, a laboratory and specialisations regarding gravity, galaxies and Mars. This is just the start.”
The unmanned Hope is expected to travel for about 200 days at speeds of up to 40,000kph on its journey of 60 million kilometres.
“It is a historic event in the development of the UAE and the region,” said Saeed Gergawi, a member of the strategic planning team at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.
“It is the first scientific research project to explore and excavate Mars and take us as Arabs and Muslims to this new era of science and scientists.”
Read more about the UAE’s Hope:
■ Have Hope, will travel: UAE Mars team has six years to reach goal
■ How the UAE's Hope will travel from Earth to Mars
Mr Gergawi said the mission would change our generation and inspire future ones.
With the technical stage complete, the team will now move into the design and testing stage.
“This will complete in 2016,” said Omran Sharaf, project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission. “Countries usually take about 10 to 12 years to accomplish such a task but we only have six years and we will succeed in making it to Mars by 2021, coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary.”
The probe will leave Earth in 2020 and is expected to be the first to study changes in the Martian atmosphere throughout its daily and seasonal cycles.
One of the questions it will address is why the planet’s atmosphere has been decaying into space to the point that it is too thin for water to exist on the surface.
More than 1,000 gigabytes of Mars data is expected to be sent back to Earth, and will be shared with more than 200 institutions worldwide for the benefit of thousands of space specialists.
“The agency will work on training young generations through research centres to enhance the education of science,” said Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency. “Our probe is a hope for this nation and a real scientific achievement for the Arab world.”
The number of Emirati scientists and engineers working on the mission is expected to reach 150 by 2020.
“Students will be our target to fulfil the saying of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, when he said our objective is to be one of the leading countries in the world in science and space,” Dr Al Rumaithi said.
“Our hope and belief in the UAE’s generations are so strong and we are sure the language of science and development will find its place in this region despite the painful regional developments happening.”
He said the Mars probe was the UAE’s gateway to the future.
“The UAE wants to send a message to the world that this young country is capable of shouldering its responsibilities towards the universe and to be a new model for humanity, and that the Arabs, whenever they are given an opportunity, can make their own contributions to the universe,” Dr Al Rumaithi said.
More details of the mission can be found at emiratesmarsmission.ae