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UAE Space Agency to host live webinar ahead of Nasa's Mars mission launch

Web report (with inputs from Reuters)/Dubai
Filed on July 30, 2020
UAE Space Agency, live, webinar, prior, launch, Nasa's, Mars 2020 Perseverance mission nn
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine stands next to a replica of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover during a press conference ahead of the launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the rover, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. July 29, 2020.

(Reuters)

Various space experts will discuss importance of Mars exploration at 3pm today, just before USA's Perseverance mission begins.

The UAE Space Agency will host a live webinar session at 3pm today (July 30) prior to the launch of Nasa's Mars 2020 Perseverance mission later in the afternoon.

Held in the presence of Dr Mohammed Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, space scientists and Arab space leaders from Nasa, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, the Arab Space Group and the UAE's Hope Mars mission will discuss the importance of Mars exploration.

Those wishing to tune in can visit the following website at 3pm.

The webinar will ramp up the excitement ahead of Nasa's launch, the world's most expensive Mars mission, which includes a rover and helicopter that will search for signs of life on the planet.

Also read: New UAE space centre will teach Emirati students to make satellites

The $2.4 billion (Dh8.82 billion) mission, slated for liftoff at 7:50 a.m. ET (3.50pm UAE) from Florida's Cape Canaveral, is planned as the U.S. space agency's ninth trek to the Martian surface.

It is the third mission to the Red Planet to be launched within just two weeks.

The UAE's Mars orbiter Hope was launched on July 20, followed by China's Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which took off three days later. Both are now on a seven-month journey to Mars.

Nasa's next-generation Perseverance rover is a six-wheeled robot tasked with deploying a mini helicopter, testing out equipment for future human missions and searching for traces of past Martian life.

 

Launching atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, the car-sized Perseverance rover is expected to reach Mars next February. It is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 metres) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists believe could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.

"This is unlike any robot that we've sent to Mars before because it has the purpose of astrobiology," Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine told Reuters in an interview. "We are trying to find evidence of ancient life on another world."

The rover will attempt for the first time to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth, collecting materials in cigar-sized capsules and leaving them scattered on the surface for retrieval by a future "fetch" rover. That conceptual rover is expected to launch the samples back into space to link up with other spacecraft for an eventual Earth homecoming around 2031.

Also aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter called Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time. Bridenstine said he can imagine a day when Nasa places a robot on Mars that can deploy perhaps a dozen different helicopters for exploration.

Since Nasa's first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others - Spirit and Opportunity - that have revealed the geology of vast Martian plains and found evidence of past water formations, among other discoveries. Nasa also has successfully sent three landers - Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight.

"We know that we're going to make discoveries with the Mars Perseverance rover that are going to make us ask a whole lot more questions, just like every previous discovery," Bridenstine told Reuters.

The United States has plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under its Artemis programme, which envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the bigger leap to Mars.

Perseverance will carry out an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere into propellant for future rockets launching off the planet's surface, or to produce breathable oxygen for future astronauts.

"There's a lot of things that we need to be able to develop and discover," Bridenstine said, "so that when we get to Mars we can actually survive for long periods of time."

reporters@khaleejtimes.com


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