UAE to launch mission to explore asteroid between Mars and Jupiter

The UAE space probe aims to land on the asteroid and remain on it till its batteries remain charged and transmit information back to Earth regarding the composition of the asteroid. 

Created On: Oct 6, 2021 18:51 IST
Asteroid between Mars and Jupiter
Asteroid between Mars and Jupiter

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on October 5, 2021 announced plans to launch a probe to explore an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter to collect data on the origins of the universe.

If the nation manages to successfully land its spacecraft on the asteroid, it will join an elite club of nations- the US, Japan and the European Union that have successfully landed probes on either an asteroid or a comet.

This latest announcement comes after a UAE probe reached the red planet earlier this year.

Aim of the Mission

The UAE probe aims to land on the asteroid and remain on it till its batteries remain charged and transmit information back to Earth regarding the composition of the asteroid. 

When will it be launched?

UAE plans to launch the asteroid by 2028 and land it in 2033. 

What data will the mission collect?

There is still discussion on what data the UAE mission will collect. Discussions are also ongoing about what equipment the spacecraft will carry, which will, in turn, affect what features it can observe.

UAE's mission: Top 5 Things to know

1. UAE's mission to the major asteroid belt between Mars are Jupiter will be a five-year journey during which the spacecraft will travel about 3.6 billion km.

2. The spacecraft will need to slingshot first around Venus and then the Earth to garner enough speed to reach the asteroid. The major asteroid belt is located about 560 million km away. 

3. The UAE's Space Agency is expected to partner with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado for the project.

4. The mission will be challenging as the spacecraft will travel both near and far from the sun. 

5. The asteroid mission is likely to be more expensive also in comparison to other past UAE missions, given its challenges.

Background 

The UAE's Space Agency will partner with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado on the project. The mission comes after UAE successfully launched the Hope probe into Mars orbit in February 2021. 

The UAE also plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024. It has also set an ambitious goal to build a human colony on Mars by 2117.

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