Ambitious plans for Mars are nothing new, but when the United Arab Emirates announced its intention to build a Mars city they weren’t joking and a 2020 probe to the red planet will prove it.
Mars Hope, the Arab World’s first mission to the red planet, is set to launch from Japan in 2020 on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries rocket and arrive in 2021 to coincide with the anniversary of the UAE’s founding.
The robotic mission to Mars is the first step in a 100-year UAE plan to colonize the red planet with an off-world colony, according to the Prime Minister of the UAE and Emir of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.”
About the size of a small car, the Hope spacecraft will weigh 1.5 tons and require a dedicated rocket boost for the first hour of its journey to the red planet, which is where the Japanese heavy lift rocket comes in.
The Mars Hope probe will travel through space for about seven months before arriving in orbit above the red planet, Mohammed Wali, deputy project manager at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, told The National.
“Nearly half of satellite Hope’s weight consists of the fuel required to reach and orbit Mars.”
As the probe travels through space toward Mars, it will deploy solar panels to power its high-gain antenna it needs to communicate with mission control and its star tracker navigation system, according to the UAE space agency website.
“As it travels, Hope will need to know where it is in space, and exactly where to point its narrow-beam antenna in order to communicate with Earth. It will use star trackers to navigate using the patterns of constellations, in much the same way as Bedouin travellers and seafarers in ancient times would use the stars to find their way.”
Once in orbit above Mars, the spacecraft will study the red planet’s atmosphere and research the connection between today’s weather and the ancient Martian climate.
UAE scientists hope to be able to answer the question of why Mars is losing its atmosphere and create the first planetary picture of the change in Martian seasons.
The Mars Hope probe is only the first part of a UAE plan to build an off-world colony on Mars.
Sheikh Mohammad announced his country’s 100-year plan to build a self-sustaining Mars city this week and charged his nation’s scholars and experts to overcome the challenges. The Mars city is expected to eventually house some 600,000 engineers, scientists, and explorers.
The UAE’s entire space program is designed as a symbol of hope to the Arab world and demonstrates the country’s intent to become one of the great spacefaring nations of the world, as Sheikh Mohammed told the New York Daily News.
“This mission to Mars is really for the hope of the Arab world and will send them a message to say you can be better, you can improve your country.”
About 40 years ago, the UAE was compromised almost entirely of fishing villages and Bedouin tribes, but the nation has earned a reputation as a world leader in innovation and technology.
Today, the country boasts firefighters with jetpacks, towering skyscrapers, and soon plans to become the world’s first city with robotic flying taxis.
A large part of the country’s leap forward in technology can be linked to the UAE Vision 2021 plan launched Sheikh Maktoum when he decided to make his country a world leader in innovation.
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[Featured Image by rajeshbac/ThinkStock]