UAE Hope Probe to help experts create Mars environment on Earth


Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Abu Dhabi - Data to complement varsity's research with NASA's Red Planet missions.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 9 Feb 2021, 6:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 9 Feb 2021, 11:15 PM

The new data from the Hope Probe will help scientists not only understand planetary mysteries, but support future missions, according to Abu Dhabi-based researcher scientists and experts.

Dimitra Atri, a research scientist at the Centre for Space Science at the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), said the data from the Hope Probe would complement the university’s ongoing research with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Red Planet missions.

“The Centre for Space Science was created in part to support the UAE’s quest to be a global hub for scientific discovery and innovation in space science. At present, we have a world-class research programme in solar, stellar and planetary science. The new data from the Hope mission will complement our ongoing research with NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) and Curiosity missions.

"It would help us better understand how solar activity impacts the Martian atmosphere, how a majority of it was eroded over a period of time, and to better estimate risks to astronaut’s health from radiation in future missions to the planet, as outlined in the UAE’s Mars 2117 strategy,” Atri told Khaleej Times.

“We plan to analyse the Hope mission data along with that from NASA’s Perseverance, India’s Mars Orbiter and China’s Tianwen-1 missions to construct a comprehensive picture of the planet,” he added.

Atri said NYUAD would try to create a Martian environment and understand the habitability of the Red Planet.

“NYUAD is developing a new experimental facility where it will be possible to create Martian conditions and study the present and past habitability of Mars,” he added.

Atri underlined that the Hope Probe and a series of other space initiatives have generated great interest among students.

“This is a historic time in the country. The UAE’s first astronaut successfully completed his mission in 2019, and more astronauts will be selected soon to participate in missions to the International Space Station. This, combined with the Hope mission’s launch last year, [means] there is tremendous excitement among students and the population at large."

Atri noted that he frequently gets emails from students asking how they can be involved with their Mars research. "Our public outreach effort focused on Mars was a big hit with school kids before the pandemic. Space is a great way to get kids interested in science and I think UAE has been successful in doing that,” he added.

Francesco Arneodo, associate dean of science and professor of physics, NYUAD, pointed out that the development of space studies in the country's universities is an example of the country’s lofty vision.

“Such studies provide an opportunity to students and faculty alike to develop programmes that are relevant for basic and applied research. Many of the present global challenges, such as climate change, require detailed data that can be only gathered from space. Many of the unanswered questions in astronomy and astrophysics require observation as well from space.”

Arneodo added: “NYUAD is involved in space research through individual faculty that collaborate with the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, and with other research institutions the world. Moreover, the Centre of Space Science and the Centre for Astro, Particle and Planetary Science represent two interconnecting clusters of researchers that are involved in high-level space research.”

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