UAE shooting for the Moon: Rashid Rover gears up for lunar landing, sparking excitement among residents

The Emirati-made rover is currently safely stored in a special compartment of a Japanese spacecraft that will attempt a soft landing tomorrow, April 25


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 24 Apr 2023, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Apr 2023, 6:52 AM

Residents in the country are getting ready to be a part of the Lunar landing where the UAE is set to make history.

The Emirati-made rover is currently safely stored in a special compartment of a Japanese spacecraft that will attempt a soft landing on the surface of the Moon on Tuesday (tomorrow).

Taking to Twitter on Monday, Salem AlMarri, Director General, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre (MBRSC) highlighted the historic milestones in the space sector that the country is set to experience this week.

He tweeted, “We start a historic week for the Emirati and Arab space sector. Tomorrow, the 1st Arab mission to the Moon is set to land with a success rate of 50 per cent.”

“On April 28, @Astro_Al neyadi [UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi] will conduct the first Arab spacewalk ever. The challenges are big. Our determination is bigger,” reads the post.

Dubai Astronomy Group CEO Hasan Al Hariri says he is looking forward to watching the lunar landing, as it is an important step that is part of the UAE’s space strategy.

He says, “It reminds me of Neil Armstrong who, on stepping foot on the Moon, had said, ‘That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. I would like to say ‘it’s a small step for the UAE, and it’s a grand step for entire mankind’. We have been, and will be going back, to the Moon time and again. The UAE is looking to build a city on Mars, but making a mark on the Moon is no less important.

That step on the Moon will open avenues for us to reach Mars and create a settlement there. This is the groundwork and paves the way for the future. The world should come and join hands with the UAE to explore the potential of our satellite; the science and technology (during these explorations) will be utilised to solve problems on Earth. Some of these are the energy issue and global warming."

He added: "Viewing the Earth from the Moon would also give us a different perspective of our own planet. So, such expeditions will help us solve current problems and guide us towards the future to boldly reach Mars. I wish all the success to the Rashid Rover.”

Sarath Raj, Programme Leader for Aerospace Engineering at Amity University Dubai, (and Project Director of the Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station) underlines that the successful lunar orbital insertion of Hakuto-R Mission 1, which carries the Rashid Rover, is fascinating because of the peculiarity of the orbit.

He says, “They used fuel-saving low energy orbit with a total transfer time of three to five months, [rather] than the typical selenocentric orbits used by other space agencies. In my Space Mechanics and Control classes, I plan to incorporate this as a case study that exemplifies the concepts we will be exploring.

This example will help students apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios and deepen their understanding of the orbital maneuvers. I am certain that I will be tuning in to watch the live landing of the Rashid Rover, which will be streamed on ispace’s YouTube channel.”

Raj explains that the landing site, Mare Frigoris, is a large lunar mare, or volcanic plain, that was formed between 3.9 and 3.2 billion years ago during the Imbrian period of lunar history, when volcanic activity was at its peak.

“It has been the site of several successful lunar missions, including the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, which collected samples from nearby mountain ranges,” he adds.

What do students have to say about the mission?

Speaking about the mission, students in the UAE note that the lunar mission is a source of pride and excitement for them. They envisage the country seeking possibilities to research celestial bodies, develop satellite communications technology, and utilise cutting-edge space technologies in terrestrial applications.

Natally Ghabbour, Grade 10 student at GEMS International School, Al Khail, says, “Since I moved to the UAE, I’ve become more and more interested in the country’s space programme. I’ve been captivated by how the UAE is developing, not just on Earth, but also in space. With this lunar mission, the UAE will become the first Arab nation and one of the first nations in the world to step foot on the lunar surface.

This has opened my eyes to several perspectives, such as how something little can develop to become an international success story. My awareness of the universe has grown due to the UAE space sector’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life for all citizens.”

They also underline that since the landing will be difficult, watching it tomorrow will be an emotional rollercoaster.

“I’ll be anxious, since circumstances on the moon’s surface are worse than those on Mars, with temperatures as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius. But I’ll also be happy. The Rashid Rover’s flight model has passed multiple tests and is now ready to land on the moon. In addition to the space industry, developments in lunar missions will impact several critical areas of the domestic and world economy,” adds Ghabbour.

Alyazia Al Shehhi, Grade 12 of West Yas Academy says, “I'm interested in space missions in general, but I'm particularly interested in the UAE Lunar mission because it is a significant achievement for the nation and its people. The UAE Lunar mission is something that I am very thrilled about because it is such a significant accomplishment for the nation. I'll be watching the landing tomorrow night and am incredibly eager to witness it.”

Aarav Bhatia, Year 6 student of Al Yasmina Academy says, “I am very interested in space explorations and Space missions are my favourite, especially the UAE space missions. They make me feel really proud as the UAE is my country of residence, and it is a great achievement for the people in this country.

The Moon, solar systems and space have always been very fascinating, and these missions help us understand more [about] the wonders of the moon and its properties.”

Manal Kazi, Grade 10 student at GEMS International School – Al Khail says, “Lunar exploration is one of the most important types of exploration and the most interesting. It tells us about the universe we live in. With the help of moon scientists, we can understand the earth’s history, such as past asteroids, and even [its] future! Moon explorations can also provide you with fascinating photos of the Earth and the solar system.

Lunar exploration also [requires] many people in different fields to work together, like physicists, engineers, material scientists, etc. I think it’s so cool and interesting for so many different people in different fields to all work together to accomplish the mission of travelling to the moon."


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