Mars mission wins global praise as UAE joins space race top table


Russian, French and Indian space agencies applaud the UAE’s achievement as the Hope Probe successfully enters Mars orbit

Russian, French and Indian space agencies have hailed the UAE’s achievement as the Hope Probe successfully entered the orbit on Mars on Tuesday.

Jean-Yves Le Gall, resident of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, said the world has begun to view the UAE as a rising power in the field of space exploration.

Russia, the first country to land a spacecraft on Mars five decades ago, said the UAE’s Hope Probe reaching the destination point itself was a “huge milestone”.

In a statement issued to state news agency WAM, Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, congratulated Emirati colleagues.

And the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which had successfully sent a spacecraft to Mars in 2014, said the UAE will join the global top table to jointly plan future Mars mission following the success of the Hope Probe.

The UAE’s Hope Probe on Tuesday completed a complex manoeuvre – the most critical part of the mission – that saw the spacecraft rapidly reducing its speed from 121,000km/h to 18,000km/h to enter Mars’ orbit.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, responded instantly with a tweet saying: “Mission accomplished”.

Speaking to WAM, Le Gall said that this first Arab exploratory flight led by the UAE places it among the ranks of leaders in the field of space sciences.

He said that since the early developments in the field of space science, there were always six powers who dominated – the US, Europe, China, Japan, Russia and India – adding: “And if we wanted to add a seventh force, it will inevitably be the UAE.”

Video: Here’s why space tourism could soon be a reality in Dubai

Dubai could become part of the space tourism revolution as early as 2023 according to Kemel Kharbachi the CEO of EOS-X Space.

“In France, we are proud to be the first space agency in the world that signed a cooperation agreement with the UAE – several cooperation agreements with the UAE Space Agency, and industrial and technical partnerships with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre,” he said.

Roscosmos was also full of praise for the UAE’s mission, saying: “The Hope mission is already a huge success whatever its continuation shall be. It showed the whole world that an ambitious passion backed up by an able leadership can quickly catapult a young nation into a club of the heavy-weight players in one of the most advanced areas of mankind’s activities.”

Russia – former Soviet Union – was the first country to land a spacecraft on Mars in 1971 and 1973, which was followed by the US with its eight successful Mars landings between 1976 and 2018.

The European Union in 1993 and India in 2014 joined this exclusive club of spacefarers that have successfully made it to Mars.

R Umamaheswaran, distinguished scientist and scientific secretary at ISRO, said: “Future planetary exploration efforts can be more optimal with global collaborations. UAE’s successful effort will expand the global team that can coordinate and jointly plan future missions to Mars.”

He added: “Science results from this mission will be useful for planning subsequent Mars missions globally including that of India’s next Mars mission.

“It will also open up new avenues of cooperation globally. Once we get a chance to see the early results, we can explore such possibility.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the UAE announced that visitors arriving at airports will receive a Martian stamp on their passports in commemoration to the Hope Probe’s historic arrival to Mars.

An emblem of the country’s ambition, the stamp – produced by the UAE Government Media Office in collaboration with Dubai Airports – comes with a special message reading: “You’ve arrived in the Emirates. The Emirates is arriving at Mars on 09.02.2021.”

The limited-edition design is made from the world’s first ‘Martian Ink’ extracted from volcanic basalt rocks that give Mars its distinct rusty colour.

The rocks were collected during a special mission to the UAE’s eastern Al Hajar Mountains and Sharjah’s Mleiha Desert by experts and gemologists. They were then crushed into a fine paste, dried in the sun, and mixed with adhesives to create three separate colors that represent the Red Planet – ready for stamping into the passports of thousands of visitors.

Basalt rocks, which can only be found in certain parts of the world, date back tens of millions of years and give the UAE’s mountain ranges their distinct rugged look.

The Hope Probe’s arrival to Mars will make the UAE the fifth nation in the world to reach the Red Planet after the United States, Soviet Union, China, the European Space Agency and India, and the third to make the feat from the first attempt.

“It is a red-letter day for the UAE and the Arab world in large as this pioneering space programme creates history for the Arab world, which boasts a rich legacy as a global generator of knowledge and science, particularly in the astronomical field,” said Firas Sleem, CEO of Virtue PR & Marketing Communications.

“The mission carries great weight being the first Arab interplanetary voyage ever initiated. The legacy of the Arab Golden Age – which began in the eighth century and saw Arab scientists make great strides in numerous scientific fields still holds great power as it is continued now with the space project being actioned by the UAE.”

Upon arriving to Mars after travelling 493 million kilometres in a seven-month journey since its launch on July 20 from Tanegashima Island in Japan, the probe will provide the first-ever complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.

The unmanned spacecraft will explore the climactic dynamics of the Red Planet in daily and seasonal timescales for a full Martian year (687 earth days).

It will gather and send back 1,000 GB of new Mars data to the Science Data Centre in the UAE via different ground stations spread around the world.

On Monday, Sheikh Mohammed said: “This is the farthest point in the universe to be reached by Arabs throughout their history… More than five million working hours by over 200 Emirati male and female engineers.

“Our goal is to give hope to all Arabs that we are capable of competing with the rest of the world.”

Speaking last month, Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chair of the UAE Space Agency, said the Hope Probe had offered a counterweight to extremism in the Middle East and has helped change the attitudes of students and young people in the region.

Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Technology and chair of the UAE Space Agency

“It provided a value proposition that is different from extremism, turmoil and instability,” she said. “That has triggered a lot of thoughts about what is possible, and about using youth positively.”

Al Amiri also said that the project has had the added benefit of helping stimulate interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – programs in the UAE and the wider region.

“We’ve seen a large shift in terms of the mindset of students in the Emirates, and keen engagement,” she added. “One of the primary instigators of the mission [was to] develop a generation capable of designing space missions, and to be a driver in terms of diversifying our economy.”In pictures: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid honour UAE Hope Probe teamUAE leaders received members of the Emirates Mars Mission, Hope Probe, team including the engineering, scientific, technical and administrative cadres at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi on Friday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *