The Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency and the Mission to Mars

Image (Credit): Artist’s image of UAE’s Hope probe orbiting Mars. (UAE Space Agency)

You may want to visit Time magazine and view the article “The Woman Who Took the UAE to Mars.” It summarizes Sarah Al Amiri’s efforts related to the United Arab Emirates’ mission to Mars as well as her plans for the country’s space agency, which she now heads as Chairwoman.

Prior to becoming Chairwoman, Ms. Amiri was deputy project manager of a mission to map the Martian atmosphere. Her team, which was 80 percent female, developed the Hope probe to accomplish this goal. The probe was launched aboard a Japanese rocket in July 2020 and now orbits Mars. The data obtained from this mission is being shared openly to assist others studying the Martian atmosphere.

Another mission mentioned in the Time article by Chairwoman Amiri is a tour of seven asteroids as well as a flyby of Venus. A UAE space page defines the mission in this way:

The spacecraft will undertake a 3.6 billion-kilometre, five-year journey, which will see it perform gravity assist manoeuvres by orbiting first Venus, then Earth in order to build the velocity required in order to reach the main asteroid belt, located beyond Mars…The mission will study seven main belt asteroids…The mission will make its first close planetary approach orbiting Venus in mid-2028, followed by a close orbit of Earth in mid-2029. It will make its first fly-by of a main asteroid belt object in 2030, going on to observe a total of seven main belt asteroids before its final landing on an asteroid 560 million kilometres from Earth in 2033. This will make the Emirates the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on an asteroid.

What was not mentioned in the story but is available via another UAE government page is plans for several other space endeavors, including:

  • Sending a rover to the Moon in 2024. The rover’s name is Rashid, named in honor of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Ruler of Dubai.
  • Establishing a settlement on Mars by 2117, and building a Mars Science City within the UAE to make this Martian mission possible.