UAE announces groundbreaking mission to asteroid belt, seeking clues to life’s origins – DNyuz

UAE announces groundbreaking mission to asteroid belt, seeking clues to life’s origins

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates unveiled plans Monday to send a spaceship to explore the solar system’s main asteroid belt, the latest space project by the oil-rich nation after it launched the successful Hope spacecraft to Mars in 2020.

Dubbed the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt, the project aims to develop a spacecraft in the coming years and then launch it in 2028 to study various asteroids.

“This is the follow-up and follow of the Mars Mission, which was the first Mars mission from this region. “We’re creating the same thing with this mission. That is, the first mission ever to explore these seven asteroids in specific and the first of its kind when it’s looked at from the grand tour aspect.”

The UAE became the first Arab country and the second country ever to successfully enter Mars’ orbit on its first try when its Hope probe reached the red planet in February 2021. Its main goals are to provide the first comprehensive picture of Mars’ atmosphere, its layers, and answer important questions regarding the planet’s composition and climate.

If successful, the newly announced spacecraft will soar at speeds reaching 33,000 kilometers (20,500 miles) per hour on a seven-year journey to explore six asteroids. The mission will end with the landing of a craft on a rare, “red” asteroids that may provide insight into Earth’s building blocks.

Organic molecules like water, which are essential to life on Earth, have been discovered in some asteroids. They may be the result of collisions between organic bodies or by creating complex organic molecules. Investigating the origins of these compounds, along with the possible presence of water on red asteroids, could shed light on the origin of Earth’s water, thereby offering valuable insights into the genesis of life on our planet.

The endeavor is a significant milestone for the burgeoning UAE Space Agency, just established in 2014, as it follows up on its success in sending the Amal, or “Hope,” probe to Mars. The new journey would span a distance over ten times greater than the Mars mission.

The explorer is named MBR after Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the vice president and prime minister of the hereditarily ruled UAE. It will first make its way toward Venus where the planet’s gravitational pull will slingshot it back past the Earth and then Mars.

The craft will eventually reach the asteroid belt, flying as close as 150 kilometers (93 miles) to the celestial boulders and covering a total distance of 5 billion kilometers (around 3 billion miles).

In October 2034, the craft is expected to make its final thrust to the seventh and last asteroid, named Justitia, before deploying a lander over a year later. Justitia is believed to only be the second red asteroid known. Its surface may contain organic materials and it could have originated in the area where giant planets were formed or beyond.

” “It is one of two most red objects found in the belt. Scientists don’t know why the object is so red,” explained Hoor AlMaazmi a researcher for the UAE space agency. “There are theories about it being originally from the Kuiper Belt and where there’s much more red objects there. So that’s one thing that we can study because it has the potential for it to be water rich as well.”

The MBR Explorer will deploy a landing craft to study the surface of Justitia that is fully developed by UAE private start-up companies. This could pave the way for future asteroids being mined to support human space missions and even UAE’s ambitious plan of building a Mars colony by 2117.

“We have identified different key areas that we want startups in the private sector to be part of, and we will engage with them through that. We also understand that knowledge in the UAE, as you may know, is still developing. Al Awadhi said, “We will give these startups the knowledge that they need.”

The article UAE launches groundbreaking mission in asteroid belt to seek clues about life’s beginnings first appeared on Associated Press .