Space mission seeks to understand how the Red Planet died Mars fate in focus
Unlocking the mystery of what turned Mars from a thriving green land into a barren red rock of sand is one of the key challenges for the UAE’s mission to planet, the head of the space project has said.
Omran Sharaf said the Emirates Mars Mission hopes data gathered from the probe on the 2020-21 trip will unlock the Red Planet’s secrets.
He was speaking to 7DAYS on the sidelines of the 2nd annual Emirates Mars Mission event by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, at which space experts from around the world gathered yesterday. Sharaf said: “Scientists believe that Mars used to be like Earth more than four billion years ago - but something went wrong and it became a dead planet.
“A big reason for that was because Mars started losing a lot of its atmosphere and turned into a toxic planet.
“When it comes to a planet that they say used to look like Earth and it lost its atmosphere, you need to know what’s happening.
“It’s highly unlikely this will happen to Earth but, still, it’s important to understand what’s happening around Earth and how it could end up. We have a case of a planet that was alive but became dead, so we need to know what happened.”
He said that the mission aims to gather data that will give deep analysis of the Red Planet's atmosphere and why it became toxic.
Sharaf said the mission is in a “deep design phase” at the moment and the team will start building the engineering model by next year.
He said: “The team understands the challenges when it comes to Mars and it’s very risky.
“But for us to make progress we have to take this risk. Because we understand the difficulties, we are not starting from scratch, we are learning from previous missions and building on that.”
The main focus now is building the probe, which is scheduled to be ready by 2019.
“We will test the model and functionality to see if the designs work.
“Then we start manufacturing the flight model and that should be ready by the end of 2019. “We are on schedule. It's a national objective to reach Mars - and the team is working very hard.”
We have a planet that was alive but died... we need to know what happened – Project Manager Omran Sharaf