Capabilities, concerns, payload: All you need to know about the UAE’s Moon Mission

Through the Emirates Lunar Mission, the country aims to lead an innovative and sustainable exploration of the moon


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 15 Oct 2022, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Sun 11 Dec 2022, 9:51 AM

Ready to make history for the Arab world, the UAE's Rashid Rover is all set to be the newest visitor to the moon.

Through the Emirates Lunar Mission, the UAE aims to lead an innovative, sustainable exploration of the moon. Here's all you need to know before the Arab world's space dream makes it to the lunar surface:

Where exactly will the rover land?

The rover’s primary landing site on the moon is Lacus Somniorum, also known as the Lake of Dreams, an area that is yet to be explored.

Located on the northeastern side of the moon, Lacus Somniorum is characterised by its unique composition formed by flows of basaltic lava, which give it a reddish hue.

The landing is said to take around five months after launch, in March 2023.

What challenges await the spacecraft on the moon?

While the temperature on the moon varies dramatically between day and night, one of the biggest challenges that the rover faces is withstanding the harsh environment on the moon, where the temperature can reach minus 200 degrees Celsius.

The Rashid rover is expected to operate for only one lunar day – equivalent to 29 days on Earth – avoiding the cold of the lunar night.

Authorities in the UAE have already tested the 10 kg moon rover in the desert.

A video posted in early March, by the Government of Dubai Media Office showed it navigating the desert sands successfully at different times of the day and night.

What are the rover’s capabilities?

The four-wheeled, 21-by-21-inch, solar-powered rover carries a pair of high-resolution cameras, a thermal imager and a microscopic imager.

It also carries an instrument for investigating the electrically charged environment at the lunar surface.

The lunar rover will be generating thousands of images and useful science data throughout the lunar day.

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has partnered with the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) which is the French government space agency, to deliver two optical cameras for Space Exploration (CASPEX) for the Rashid rover.

The CASPEX camera on top of the rover’s mast will provide panoramic visibility of the rover's surroundings.

How will this information be useful?

The rear-mounted French camera’s images of the drive tracks will be analysed to determine wheel sinkage and investigate the detailed wheel-soil interaction.

Such data will be important to design the mobility systems of future rovers.

The project is also a key part of the UAE’s space exploration strategy, which is centred around building new knowledge capabilities, inspiring future generations to pursue space science and research and fostering global collaboration.

What will the Mission 1 lander carry and who will operate it?

The UAE’s mission to the moon is on track for launch in November this year. Japan-based ispace inc, which will land the Rashid Rover on the moon, earlier stated that its Mission 1 (M1) will blast off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The M1 lander will carry multiple commercial and government payloads, including two rovers to the surface of the moon. After its launch, M1 will be operated from the Hakuto-R Mission Control Centre (MCC) in Tokyo’s central business district, Nihonbashi.

The MCC will monitor the lander's attitude, temperature, and other conditions; send commands and data to the lander; and receive images and video data during transit to the moon as well as from the lunar surface.


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