The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has set its eyes on a giant leap in the space race as it has planned a new mission to our solar system’s asteroid belt. This comes just a year after the UAE space agency successfully launched its 'Al Amal’, or ‘Hope’ mission, meant for studying the atmosphere of Mars, in July 2020.
Although the name or details of the mission have not been disclosed yet, the UAE had informed in October that it will launch a new spacecraft by 2028.
In an interview with Space.com, Sarah Al Amiri, the chair of the UAE Space Agency said that they will draw lessons from the ‘Hope’ mission but will proceed with the new project with a completely new approach. Moreover, he added, “We don't have a typical process of proposals and then narrowing it down and so on. It's an interesting way of working, but I enjoy it thoroughly because you have everyone sitting at the same table, scientists, engineers, mission designers, discussing all these different potential programs".
The project is currently at an extremely nascent stage as the scientist have not even decided which asteroids in the asteroid belt they will be focusing on. However, the officials involved in the project have revealed that the new spacecraft will engage in a new type of science but its design and construction will be based on its predecessor, the Hope spacecraft. Talking about why the asteroid belt was chosen as the new exploration site, Al Amiri told Space.com, The asteroid belt provides a good snapshot in the past, our understanding of the evolution of our solar system, and a snapshot into the future into the role they will play in space exploration.
من ارتفاع ٢٥ ألف كم عن سطح الكوكب الأحمر .. أول صورة للمريخ بأول مسبار عربي في التاريخ— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 14, 2021
The first picture of Mars captured by the first-ever Arab probe in history, 25,000 km above the Red Planet's surface pic.twitter.com/Qgh2Cn3JPF
UAE’s Mission ‘Hope’, which also was the first Mars mission from the Middle East, was launched on July 20 last year. With the successful insertion of the spacecraft in the Martian orbit, UAE became the second country to bag success in the first attempt after India’s 2013 Mangalyaan mission. Currently hovering over the planet, the orbiter has been deployed to gather data about the dust storms on the red planet. The knowledge of the dynamic of dust storms on Mars is crucial for the planning and execution of future human missions to the red planet.