UAE commences next interplanetary space mission

05 October 2021
The UAE Space Agency's next mission will explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter

The UAE Space Agency has announced the commencement of work on its next interplanetary mission, scheduled for launch in 2028.

The mission will build on the knowledge and experience gained from the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM). It will be developed in partnership with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the US.

The UAE Space Agency has also said the new mission will involve significant participation from Emirati private sector companies.

“When we embarked on the Emirates Mars Mission, we took on a six-year task that was five times more complex than the earth observation satellites we were developing,” said Sarah al-Amiri, chair of the UAE Space Agency (pictured right).

“This mission is five times more complex than EMM.” 

Mission details

With the primary goal of exploring the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the spacecraft will undertake a 3.6 billion-kilometre, five-year journey. It will perform gravity assist manoeuvres by orbiting Venus before Earth to build the velocity required to reach the main asteroid belt, located beyond Mars.

Its trajectory around Venus will see it reaching a solar proximity of 109 million kilometres and further distance from the sun of 448 million kilometres, requiring substantial thermal protection, high levels of insulation, and spacecraft operation with minimal levels of available solar energy.

During the probe's journey, it will study seven main belt asteroids. It will be built using the substantial heritage and intellectual property (IP) acquired during the development of EMM and Hope Probe, which is currently orbiting Mars and gathering unique data on Mars’ atmospheric composition and interactions.

The mission will make its first close planetary approach orbiting Venus in mid-2028, followed by a close orbit of Earth in mid-2029. It will make its first fly-by of a main asteroid belt object in 2030, before its final landing on an asteroid 560 million kilometres from Earth in 2033. This will make the UAE the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on an asteroid.

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