UAE: 2-month contest launched to build robots for deep space exploration

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Photo from @HopeMarsMission/Twitter
Photo from @HopeMarsMission/Twitter

Dubai - The winning team also stands to get a cash prize of up to Dh50,000


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 13 Sep 2021, 2:50 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Sep 2021, 8:01 AM

A new contest will give students an opportunity to build, code and design robots to carry out complex reconnaissance missions on Mars. But that’s not all — they’ll also work right alongside the team that successfully sent the Hope Probe to Mars.

Planet X, a nationwide two-month contest, was launched by Emirates Mars Mission in collaboration with the Dubai Airshow 2021.

The competition aims to help the nation’s youth build their careers in the fast-growing global space and aviation industries. The winning team also stands to win up to Dh50,000.

The challenge kicks off with a pre-qualification round in September, followed by a week of training in October.

Qualifying high school and university students will participate in the main challenge during the Dubai Airshow 2021, running from November 14 to 18.

Omran Sharaf, project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission — Hope Probe, said: “Empowering youth is an important part of our long-term vision to enhance the nation’s global position in all space-related fields and create a new cadre of leaders that can push the boundaries of science and technology.”

The contest aims to motivate young people with skills in science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Sharaf added that the Planet X challenge will also give students insight into pursuing a career in space science.

“By building and coding robots to successfully carry out complex reconnaissance missions on Mars, we will demonstrate how exciting and rewarding a career in space science can be," Sharaf said. "We want to inspire students to reach for the stars and contribute to our nation’s meteoric rise in deep space exploration and I believe our new competition will deliver on this."

The most successful 40 students will be invited to receive rigorous training and mentorship from engineers and technologists. They will learn how to develop state-of-the-art robots and 3D-printed aircraft from the Hope Probe Mars Mission team.

Finally, to complete their mission successfully, students will have to complete various complex challenges. Contestants will be expected to create ground and aerial robots for reconnaissance missions on Planet X and build an unmanned aerial vehicle to glide above the Martian planet.

Timothy Hawes, managing director at Tarsus F&E — the organisers of Dubai Airshow 2021, said: “Since its launch, Dubai Airshow has been a platform for fostering new talents and inspiring the next generation to be a part of the global aerospace industry."

"We are delighted to be supporting major initiatives like the Emirates Mars Mission Planet X, which gives students an opportunity to showcase their skills, learn from the industry’s leading experts and pave their way towards a career in the space industry," he added.

To enter planet X, students must complete a pre-qualification round, which is now open.

Applicants are required to design an aircraft capable of carrying out missions on Mars, answer technical details about how it would work in practice, and complete a live coding challenge.

To participate, send an e-mail with your team info to

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