Mars mis­sion sparks in­creased in­ter­est in science

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Ryan @ThatPad­dyRyan

The UAE’s planned mis­sion to Mars in 2020 has spiked in­ter­est in space ex­plo­ration across that coun­try. That was the mes­sage from one of the team plan­ning to send the probe to the Red Planet.

“Space is al­ways some­thing that in­spires peo­ple be it through science fic­tion or films like The Mar­tian,” said Salem Hu­maid Al­marri, As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor Gen­eral, Sci­en­tific and Tech­nol­ogy Af­fairs with the Gov­ern­ment of Dubai.

He was speak­ing to 7DAYS at the launch of the World Space Risk Fo­rum ( WSRF), which is tak­ing place next month in Dubai.

“The Emi­rates Mars Mis­sion is a sci­en­tific mis­sion but it’s also an in­spir­ing mis­sion,” he said.

“It will and it does in­spire youth to say ‘You know what, I’m not go­ing to study busi­ness, I’m go­ing to study science’.

“The Mars Mis­sion was an­nounced two years ago and we’ve def­i­nitely seen a surge in in­ter­est since then.”

Al­marri said the mis­sion is very much on sched­ule for 2020 – adding they have no choice in the mat­ter.

“Go­ing to Mars is not like an Earth ob­ser­va­tion, the or­bits of Mars and Earth and the way they are or­bit­ing the sun is com­pli­cated,” said Al­marri.

Point­ing out that it takes seven to nine months to reach Mars, he added: “The op­por­tu­nity to travel to Mars opens up ev­ery two years for a cou­ple of months.

“If you miss it you have to wait another two years. Our tar­get launch date is in 2020.

“We want to reach there by 2021 by the 50th an­niver­sary of the United Arab Emi­rates. We are on sched­ule for that. It is true there are risks in the space sec­tor, as with any other, but with a re­spon­si­ble but with a re­spon­si­ble ap­proach, the re­wards are there for all to see – in gal­vanis­ing the next gen­er­a­tion to think about science and maths.”

More than 400 lead­ers from across the global space in­dus­try will con­verge on Dubai for the WSRF which takes place from Novem­ber 2-4.

“Space is our to­mor­row and holds the key to the con­tin­ued evo­lu­tion of mankind,” said Lau­rent Le­maire, or­gan­is­ing host of the WSRF and CEO of the DIFC-based elseco, that spe­cialises in space un­der­writ­ing.

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