The first Arab space mission to Mars, armed with probes to examine the Red Planet’s atmosphere, is prepared to inspire the region’s youth and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs, officials said on Tuesday.
The unmanned probe Al-Amal — Hope in Arabic — is to detonate from a Japanese space centre on July 15, with preparations now in their final stages.
The project is that the next giant step for the United Arab Emirates, whose colossal skyscrapers and mega-projects have put it on the world map.
The UAE sent its first astronaut into space last year and is additionally planning to build a “Science City” to replicate conditions on Mars, where it hopes to make a human settlement by 2117.
Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager, said that apart the ambitious scientific goals, the mission was designed to refer to the region’s golden age of cultural and scientific achievements.
“The UAE wanted to send a strong message to the Arab youth and to remind them of the past, that we used to be generators of knowledge,” he told AFP.
“People of different backgrounds and religion coexisted and shared a similar identity,” he said of the Arab world, where many countries are today wracked by sectarian conflicts and economic crises.
“Put your differences aside, focus on building the region, you have a rich history and you can do much more.”