With the world’s fifth mission — and first from an Arab country — to reach Mars, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joins an elite club, along with the United States, the former Soviet Union, the European Union, and India, that have successfully sent uncrewed probes to the Red Planet.
Climate and atmosphere-related data obtained by the Hope Probe (Misabar Al Amal) will be shared with more than 200 international scientific and educational institutions.
“The Hope Probe’s entry into the orbit of Mars after a 4.9-million-kilometre space journey a victory of the UAE’s space, education, science and technology sectors,” said H.E. Hamad Al Mansoori, Director General of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
UAE officials see the Mars mission as a key step towards digital transformation at the national, regional, and global levels, with the envisaged “Fourth Industrial Revolution” making space exploration an essential element to promote development and prosperity on Earth.
The National Innovation Strategy, spanning seven sectors including the space programme, aims to train highly specialized domestic human resources and make the UAE a global leader in space technology.
“This marks the UAE’s determination to shape its space industry in a way that focuses on building rather than buying, while also forging international partnerships in the space sector,” Al Mansoori added.
Insights on Mars and Earth
The UAE space mission promised to make more than 1,000 gigabytes of new data relating to Mars available to the whole world for free.
Notably, the Hope Probe will provide the first holistic study of the Martian climate, helping to characterize the planet’s lower atmosphere, correlate lower and upper atmospheric conditions, and understand the escape of hydrogen and oxygen to outer space.
Growing knowledge of the Martian atmosphere could also contribute to long-term studies of climate change on Earth.
UAE leaders visited the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as far back as the 1970s, and the national space sector began with the establishment of the Thuraya Communications Company in 1997. In the past decade, the UAE has focused on integrating advanced technologies into engineering, computer science, biotechnology, data science and other national projects.
The current 10-year plan for Dubai’s Mohamed bin Rashid Space Centre includes Emirati-built satellites and an outer space simulation centre to build a cadre of Emirati engineers capable of carrying out ambitious space projects.
The Emirates Moon Exploration Project, launched in 2020, aims to send the first Arab mission “with national competencies” to the Moon by 2024.
“The complexities of the Mars exploration project have helped enhance the Emirati team’s expertise in various fields, such as manufacturing, management, risk, research and all related aspects of the mission,” Al Mansoori said.
Founded 50 years ago and an ITU Member State since 1972, the United Arab Emirates aims, with its mission to Mars, to align with ITU support for global collaboration in space science and to advance United Nations-backed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the benefit of all.