Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UAE's Sheikh Mohammed Calls on Public to Name Mars Probe

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Credit: Reuters

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) VP, PM and Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has asked all the country’s residents to suggest an Arabic name for the country’s first mission to Mars. The Gulf country plans to send its first unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, becoming the Arab world’s first mission that has been conducted to explore outer space. In a series of tweets, Sheikh Mohammed asked all residents of the UAE to share their suggestions via the hashtag Mars_Probe. “Brothers and sisters we began by preparing for the launch of the first Arab Islamic probe to explore the planet Mars. #Mars_Probe will be the start to enter the Arab space age. Mars is a very challenging journey.. it is an inspiration to us all as the Arab nation that we can compete in the race of civilisation and universal knowledge.”

The ruler added that the UAE wants to involve Arab youth in the project and create opportunities.

“We want to open the doors of hope and optimism and want their ambitions to embrace the sky,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The planned probe will take nine-months and span more than 60 million kilometres.

The mission, to be led by Emiratis, will make the UAE one of nine countries with space programmes to explore Mars, and will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of the country’s formation.

Working towards a 2021 launch of the Mars probe, officials have formed a UAE Space Agency that will supervise the mission and coordinate the country’s space technology.

The agency will be responsible for developing the space exploration sector, ensuring knowledge transfer, enhancing the country’s position as a global player in aerospace, and maximising the contribution of space industries to the national economy.

The agency will report to the cabinet and have financial and administrative independence.

UAE investments in space technologies currently exceed Dhs20 billion, and the project will establish the sector as a key component of the national economy in the future, officials said.


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