WGS Dialogues: Minister of State for Advanced Technology Says UAE is well on track to expanding space ecosystem, encourages private sector participation

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Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri: The Hope Probe underscored the UAE’s vision to develop future-focused skills and invest in young national talent

Dubai, UAE: Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, today confirmed that the success of the first Arab interplanetary space mission of its kind – the launch of the UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars, underscored the country’s vision to develop the skills of the future, and to invest in young national talent to further strengthen their capabilities in the fields of advanced science, technology, engineering, and scientific research.

During her participation in a session titled ‘Space Exploration in 2021 and Lessons Learnt’, on Day 2 of the World Government Summit Dialogues, moderated by Corinne Iozzio, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science magazine, Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri stated that the UAE is keen to promote science, technology and innovation, and will continue to initiate pioneering projects aimed at transferring knowledge and providing skilled engineers, researchers, and scientists with the necessary expertise to enable them to further advance this vital sector.

Her Excellency added that the Emirates Mars Mission will place all the data collected by the Hope Probe from the atmosphere of the Red Planet at the disposal of the global scientific community, to facilitate research efforts and contribute to further understanding the planet. In doing so, the country is also set to boost international collaborations in the field of space exploration in the years to come.

Expanding Human Knowledge and Preparing a Generation of Scientists

Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri said: “Space exploration research and space missions enable us to expand the breadth of our knowledge, and better understand the neighboring planets and the solar system, as well as the myriad cosmic phenomena surrounding us. The insights gained through such initiatives simultaneously serve as a window on the past and as a vision for the future, and contribute to improving our daily lives through space industry innovations.”

She added that the success of the Hope Probe’s mission will positively impact national plans over the next decade and help prepare a new cadre of national experts that have contributed to the planning, designing, and executing the launch of Probe over the six years of the project.

Scientific Missions Offer a Comprehensive Picture of the Red Planet

The Minister of State for Advanced Technology touched upon the scientific tasks that the Hope Probe will carry out in studying climate phenomena and the seasons on Mars for an entire year, indicating that the data from the Probe will go a long way in enhancing knowledge about this planet through offering a comprehensive picture of weather conditions in the lower layer of Martian atmosphere, as well as of dust particles, clouds, and gases that can explain the absence of hydrogen and oxygen. A bigger purpose of these findings is to inform the scientific community about the challenges of climate change on Earth with a view to overcoming them.

Her Excellency stressed the importance of building and strengthening partnerships with the private sector in the field of space exploration, and of expanding the application of 4IR technologies to accelerate innovation. She identified two basic areas of cooperation in the aerospace field that could engage the private sector – the first is the provision of a comprehensive and vital ecosystem to enable investors and innovators to contribute to the development of the sector. The second focuses on developing the capabilities and expertise required in various disciplines that are also crucial for the national space sector.

Challenges of the Hope Probe Launch and Reaching Orbit

The Minister said that the Emirates Mars Mission team was confident about completing the necessary preparations and ensuring the Hope Probe’s readiness to enter the capture orbit around the Red Planet, the culmination of years of preparation and millions of working hours. During a blind phase that spanned 27 minutes, the Probe carried out a challenging maneuver as it approached Mars, and reduced its speed from 121,000 kmph to 18,000 kmph,  through leveraging the spaceship’s six reverse propulsion engines in order to enter the capture orbit successfully. The remarkable mission made the UAE only the fifth country to reach Mars and the third in the world to reach the planet’s orbit on the first attempt.

She emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact presented new challenges to the UAE’s space ambition prior to the successful launch of the Hope Probe in July 2020. Despite the roadblocks, the EMM team remained confident and resolute and continued to study the shifting data and changing scenarios that included the re-evaluation of the tests taken in order of priority, and the restructuring of operational teams.