On February 9th, 2021, the United Arab Emirates made history. After seven months and more than 300 million miles, the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope probe completed a successful insertion into the Martian orbit.
At 11:14 AM EST, and at 8:14 PM U.A.E. time, the U.A.E. became only the 5th country to ever reach Mars, and the first Arab country to do so. Scenes of celebration broke out around the U.A.E. and around Burj Khalifa where a large group of onlookers and journalists were monitoring the developments via a large screen that was projecting the scenes from inside the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.
His Excellency Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai said that reaching Mars was due to the belief that the U.A.E. has no future without science, and that the U.A.E. wants to foster a culture for youth that the impossible is possible. He added that the U.A.E. wants to be at the forefront of Arab science, and this trip shows Emirati ambition to compete at a global level in science and technology.
As previously outlined by Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, the U.A.E. Minister of State for Advanced Technologies and Deputy Chief of the Emirates Mars Mission, during a webinar with the Business Council, the key scientific goal of the Emirates Mars Mission is to study the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere on a global scale, and on both season and diurnal timescales. This will allow scientists to understand the weather system of the red planet, as well as the ability to look into the peculiarities of Martian weather, such as its dust storms and the atmospheric loss of hydrogen and oxygen.
The U.A.E.’s team that worked on and designed the probe comprised more than 200 Emirati scientists with an average age of 27, and women made up nearly 80% of the Emirates Mars Mission team. H.E. Sarah Al Amiri discussed this commitment to the youth and to the future of Emiratis by a deep investment in STEM during the 1 February event, where she stated that the U.A.E. wants science and technology to be a vital component of its knowledge-based economy and for the future. She further commented that the Emirates has been building the capacity of its space and STEM-related fields to ensure that they have a solid bedrock and ecosystem for related endeavors, and to sustain space exploration for generations to come.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the noted American astrophysicist and planetary scientist, captured the broader importance of of the mission when he stated that the Hope Probe is doing something that no one has done before by studying the Martian atmosphere, and that this project showcases the beauty of international collaboration. Tyson mentioned how the U.S.’s space endeavors inspired a generation of scientists, engineers, and astronauts, and that the U.A.E. is capturing that spirit for not just its citizens, but Arabs around the Middle East. He concluded by stating that Arab astronomers made some of the most important contributions to science in history, and that the U.A.E.’s Emirates Mars Mission is an extension of that legacy.
For more information about the Emirates Mars Mission, please reference the Business Council’s report here. For further information on the Business Council’s activities related to space and STEM, please contact the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s Director on the space vertical, Ameer Alsamman, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.usuaebusiness.org.