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The journey of an Emirati Mars scientist

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on July 14, 2020 | Last updated on July 14, 2020 at 06.44 am
Journey, Emirati Mars Scientist, Noora Al Saeed, Mars scientist, PhD candidate, Emirates Mars Mission,

(Supplied photo)

As a child Noora loved watching the Discovery channel and asked a lot of questions in science class.

There are multiple paths one can take to become a Mars scientist." That was the key thought highlighted by Noora Al Saeed, Mars scientist and a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder during a virtual talk on Monday.

She shared her journey and explained the process to all aspiring scientists who are fascinated by the red planet in light of the Emirates Mars Mission's (EMM) historic launch on July 15.

"The Martian atmosphere is still an enigma in many different aspects even though we know some basics and some details of it. We want to know how it behaves on a global structure and that is what Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) is going to help answer," said the Emirati woman who began her journey to becoming a scientist way back in 2015.

As a child Noora loved watching the Discovery channel and asked a lot of questions in science class. "So when I chose a major for my Bachelor's degree I knew what I wanted to do but didn't know how to."

She then pursued her undergraduate studies at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) with an undeclared major.

"I used those years to explore all the options that I have. I enrolled in different classes and the one that really caught my attention was the astronomy class."

Noora along with her AUS professor started exploring places within the region where they could build astronomical observatory sites.

"That was my first experience of interacting with research, with regards to weather patterns, different geological features in the Arab region and determining places to build an observatory. So a lot of atmospheric research was involved there as well," recalled Noora.

Subsequently, she got a chance through The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) to pursue her research in 2015 at a US university.

"So, I got the experience of working with a research community, I also worked at the research laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder."

Later, having enrolled for a Masters and PhD programme in the same university, Noora felt the one thing that excited her the most was to work on real data from missions.

"By that time the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) was already announced. So, I knew that I could come back to the UAE and work on Mars data in my home country. Therefore, I decided to focus on my thesis on Mars atmosphere and surface."

She even went on to presenting her research project at the International Mars Conference in the US which was one of the highlights of her career.

Noora said people with interests in different disciplines can still look forward to becoming a Mars Scientist provided they have a keen knack for the subject.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 


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