A look at UAE’s space program, its overall goals and its Mars probe Hope

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Link here. Much of what this article discusses, the use of space to help diversify the UAE’s economy, have already been noted previously by this same site and linked to by me in an earlier post. However, the article also provides some details about the scientific mission of their Mars Hope probe, set to launch in 2020.

[Hope, or the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)] will be the first probe to study Martian climate through the daily and seasonal cycles. It will explore the connection between the upper and lower atmosphere, study the events in the lower atmosphere such as changes in temperature and dust storms, and how they affect the upper atmosphere in the following days or weeks.

It will also seek to answer some of the key questions that we have about Mars such as why the planet is losing its atmosphere to space, by tracking the behaviour of hydrogen and oxygen, which are the building blocks of water. With the discovery of periodical water on the surface of the Red Planet, Hope will be able to answer if the source of the Martian water is from the atmosphere. This research will create the first global image of weather on Mars during the days, weeks, months, and years, adding a new dimension to human knowledge on how the Red Planet’s atmosphere really works.

Overall, it appears that the primary goal so far has been to train engineers in the building of satellites. This is a good thing, and you have to start somewhere, but the UAE nonetheless has a big hill to climb before it can compete in the global satellite market.

Note too that it appears that all the investment capital for this effort is coming from the Emirates’ leadership. If one of those newly trained engineers wanted to form their own company, would he or she be allowed to obtain capital elsewhere, thus becoming a truly independent and competing operation? I suspect not, which means that this will limit the long term diversification of this industry, despite that being the UAE’s number one goal.


One comment

  • Tom Billings

    Indeed, the Emirates Space effort, like all large activities in a hierarchical society, must be top-down. Otherwise, letting that much wealth out from under supervision of the elites could lead to overthrow of the elites sometime down the road. As long as this generation’s ruling elite have real enthusiasm for these efforts, the EMM and other missions will be funded.

    However, unless the next generation’s elites share that enthusiasm, funding will dwindle. Then, there will be another choice to be made, between let it die, or let in the little people. *If* they want wealth from Space enough by then that they *do* choose to let non-elites control space spending through many investment sources, then we may see some good results. If not, the sands of the desert will cover their works.

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