Space mis­sion seeks to un­der­stand how the Red Planet died Mars fate in fo­cus

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir sar­

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

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