UAE Unveils Science Goals for ‘Hope’ Mars Probe

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The United Arab Emirates’ space agency might only be 10 months old, but it’s already signed multiple agreements with established spacefaring nations and just released this slick video — along with some new details — about its plan to launch the Arab world’s first Mars probe in July 2020.

An on-time launch would put the Emirates Mars Mission probe, newly named Hope, on track to reach the red planet in 2021 as the UAE celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain.

Emirates Mars Mission project manager Omran Sharaf. Credit: UAESA video
Emirates Mars Mission project manager Omran Sharaf. Credit: UAESA video

“If a small young Arab nation is able to reach Mars, truly anything is possible,” Emirates Mars Mission project manager Omran Sharaf says in the video.

During a May 6 press conference, members of the Emirates Mars Mission team unveiled the probe’s science goals along with new conceptual artwork, which can be seen in the video above.

“Our science mission is to produce the first-ever truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere,” Sharaf says. “This is the first holistic study of the Martian climate and how the how the layers of the atmosphere fit together.”

Since first announcing the Mars mission last July, the UAE has formed a space agency, concluded bilateral space agreements with Russia, France, Britain and Kazakstan, and met with U.S. government officials to discuss space cooperation.

In the video, project managers make clear the UAE doesn’t intend to outsource the mission in order to plant a UAE flag in orbit around Mars.

Sarah Amiri, Emrirates Mars Mission deputy project manager and science lead. Credit: UAESA
Sarah Amiri, Emrirates Mars Mission deputy project manager and science lead. Credit: UAESA

“This mission is managed by a 100-percent Emirati team,” said Sarah Amiri, the mission deputy project manager and science lead.

“Emirati universities and research institutions will work on the science,” said Ibrahim Al Qasim, the mission’s deputy project manager for strategic planning. “That way we get to build the knowledge and keep the skills. This mission will be the catalyst for a new generation of Arab scientists and engineers. It will be an anchor project for the space and science sector here in the UAE,” said lead guy.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of the emirate of Dubai and the namesake of the UAE’s lead space center, attended the May 6 press briefing, where he explained why the name Hope was chosen for the mission.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum  addressing  attendees during a May 6 press conference unveiling new details of its planned Mars mission.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum addressing attendees during a May 6 press conference unveiling new details of its planned Mars mission.

Sheikh Mohammed provided additional explanation in the comments section of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center’s YouTube channel.

“After thousands of suggestions for the name of #Mars  probe, we decided to name the probe “Hope” as it sends a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs,”  Sheikh Mohammed wrote.

“Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again. #EmiratesMarsMission  proves that nothing is impossible, that #Arabs   can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge.”