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Video: Moon mission a stopover in UAE’s goal to send humans to Mars

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The UAE’s mission to land a rover on the Moon by 2024 will help the country realise its ambitious plan of sending humans to Mars and building a settlement there by 2117, a top official has said.

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“Developing all these missions and new technologies will help us … contribute to this global exploration road map,” said Adnan AlRais, Mars 2117 Programme Director, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

The UAE’s Mars 2117 Programme aims to establish the first inhabitable human settlement on Mars by 2117.

The official said about 40 per cent of the engineers working on the Emirates Lunar Mission are women. The ‘Rashid Rover’ – named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, builder of modern Dubai, – will ultimately become part of a global exploration programme.

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If successful, the UAE will become the first Arab country and the fourth in the world to land on the lunar surface after the United States, Soviet Union, and China.

AlRais said: “The Rashid Rover will be developed fully in house by our young Emirati engineers. This will be our first space robotic mission. So a lot of robotic space technologies will be developed as part of this mission.”

Multiple teams are working towards completing the design of the rover by 2021. It is set to be manufactured in 2022, while preliminary experiments and tests of the prototype are expected to start in 2023.

“Developing all these missions and new technologies will help us … achieve our ultimate goal, which is basically sending humans to Mars and building a settlement on Mars by 2117. So, UAE is contributing to this global exploration road map,” AlRais added.

Mapping new locations

Scientists said the Emirates Lunar Mission will also be an opportunity to study new lunar locations that have not been studied by previous missions.

Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager, Emirates Lunar Mission, said: “There were a handful of missions that were sent to the lunar surface before, but this mission will explore a new territory where we will be able to provide valuable scientific data to the international science community to study the Moon. It will be an opportunity to study the lunar regolith – which is a fine dust on the lunar surface. Our mission will provide valuable data with the instruments that we have in order to study lunar dust and that will help us develop technologies for future missions.”

The Rashid Rover is expected to send back at least 1,000 images, including that of the Moon landing, surface, night-time images of the Earth and thermal ones. It will also relay navigation data, including flight time, surface topography data on the Moon, inertial measurement unit, temperatures and energy consumption.

Mission objectives

>Research and development

>Encourage local talent in advanced space robotics

>Platform for international collaborations

>Help other space agencies develop their missions

Rover design

An instrument called Magnaprobe is the first of its kind that will study the physical phenomenon on the lunar surface. The rover will have 4 cameras:

> 1 for capturing high resolution images of the lunar surface

> 1 for navigation

> A microscope camera will photograph lunar dust

> A thermal camera will study the thermal characteristics of materials on the lunar surface

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