Emirates Mars Mission Launches Mars Data Analysis Competition for UAE Students

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  • Fifth cycle of EMM’s ‘Explore Mars’ competition is first to use ‘live’ data from the Hope Probe’s scientific instruments.

Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) team has launched the fifth cycle of its Explore Mars Competition, offering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students an opportunity to explore Mars using scientific data from EMM’s Science Data Center for the first time.

The competition gives students the chance to analyse the science data gathered by the Hope Probe, working individually or collaborating in teams of up to three people. To enter, students are required to produce an A1 format scientific poster – a commonly used presentation of science data used in international science meetings and events. The posters will be judged by a panel and evaluated based on their scientific content and insight, design and presentation.

Three winners will be selected from the entries received, qualifying for prizes of AED 10,000, 7,000 and 5,000 respectively. Students have until Saturday, 20 November, 2021, to register for the competition.

Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission at MBRSC, said: “This is the first time in the five years we have been holding the Explore Mars competition that we have been able to offer students the chance to analyse live data from our own instruments, so we are particularly excited to see what insights and discoveries they manage to pull together. The EMM Science Data Centre is currently hosting data gathered from Hope’s first mission phase, including ground-breaking observations of Mars’ discrete aurora and our findings of unusually high concentrations of atmospheric oxygen and carbon monoxide.”

The Explore Mars Competition is geared towards honing and refining students’ research skills by exposing them to the EMM Science Data Center (SDC) and the analytical tools required to compare and contrast the Hope Probe’s unique data sets.

For her part, Engineer Hessa Al Matrooshi, Emirates Mars Mission Science Lead said: “Launching the fifth version of the Explore Mars competition highlights our ongoing commitment to inform, educate and inspire the next generation of talent. After sharing the first batch of data gathered by Hope Probe with the scientific community, we are excited to use this contest as an opportunity to get students excited about using the data to serve as a launch pad to inspire and encourage them to explore careers in space science..”

The Emirates Mars Mission is studying the relationship between the upper layer and lower regions of the Martian atmosphere, giving the international science community full access to a holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day, through different seasons.

The Hope Probe carries three state-of-the-art instruments:

EXI – The Emirates eXploration Imager is a digital camera that will capture high-resolution images of Mars along with measuring water ice and ozone in the lower atmosphere through the UV bands.

EMIRS – The Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer will measure the global distribution of dust, ice cloud, and water vapor in the Martian lower atmosphere.

EMUS – The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer will measure oxygen and carbon monoxide in the thermosphere and the variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere.

Data from these instruments is uploaded every three months to the EMM Science Data Centre and made publicly available to scientists, researchers and enthusiasts globally, without embargo.

The Mission’s Hope Probe is following its planned 20,000 – 43,000 km elliptical science orbit, with an inclination to Mars of 25 degrees, giving it a unique ability to complete one orbit of the planet every 55 hours and capture a full planetary data sample every nine days throughout its one Martian year (two Earth year) mission to map Mar’s atmospheric dynamics.

EMM and the Hope probe are the culmination of a knowledge transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers working with partners around the world to develop the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Hope is a fully autonomous spacecraft, carrying three instruments to measure Mars’ atmosphere. Weighing some 1,350 kg, and approximately the size of a small SUV, the spacecraft was designed and developed by MBRSC engineers working with academic partners, including LASP at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Hope Probe’s historic journey to the Red Planet coincides with a year of celebrations to mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.

About the Emirates Mars Mission:

Announced in July 2014 by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the Emirates Mars Mission has been developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), in conjunction with its knowledge transfer partners and funded by the UAE Space Agency.

Conceptualized to disrupt and accelerate the United Arab Emirates’ space sector through shaping a scientific community, and boosting space education in the country, the Probe aims to build the first full picture of Mars’s climate throughout the Martian year.

The Hope Probe reached Mars orbit in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the UAE, which became an independent nation on December 2, 1971.