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NASA to put communications capability on UAE’s Mars spacecraft ‘Hope’ that will reach Red Planet in 2021

The Hope spacecraft will travel more than 60 million km in its nine-month journey, coinciding with the UAE's 50th anniversary in 2021

Red Planet Mars, VOA

Dubai, November 27, 2016: US space agency NASA will work with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency to put communications capability on the UAE’s Mars spacecraft Hope that will reach the Red Planet in 2021, an official said on Sunday.

Dr Gale Allen, NASA’s Deputy Chief Scientist, in an interview to Gulf News said that the development is part of an “umbrella agreement” for collaboration between the two agencies.

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“We want to work very closely with the UAE on any other missions going forward,” Allen, who was in the UAE for the UN-UAE High Level Forum on “Space as a Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development”, was quoted as saying.

“For the Mars probe, one of things that is very interesting to us is an opportunity to put communications capability on the probe. The importance for us is that we really want to send humans to Mars in the 2030s,” she said.

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“We are looking at, possibly at some point, putting better communications up there. If we could partner and leverage the UAE Mars probe, it is certainly going to be beneficial for us,” she noted.

On the agreement, she pointed out that it was an “umbrella agreement”, which meant that NASA wanted to collaborate in future space exploration missions.

“The Mars probe is the first step in…collaborations, but we certainly look at this as a long-term partnership,” she noted.

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The Hope spacecraft will travel more than 60 million km in its nine-month journey, coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

The mission will be supervised by the UAE Space Agency and developed by Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), with support from international partners. (IANS)

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover, Latest Robotic Mission to Explore Ancient Life on Red Planet

When it is launched in July 2020, the spacecraft will carry the latest scientific and engineering tools

NASA's 2020 Mars rover to have 23 'eyes'. Pixabay

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, its latest robotic mission to the Red Planet, will include technology to explore ancient life on Mars, according to the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The goal of the Mars 2020 rover is to look for signs of ancient life.

It will be the first spacecraft to collect samples of the Martian surface, caching them in tubes that could be returned to Earth on a future mission, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday. The atmosphere on Mars is mostly carbon dioxide and extremely thin, about 100 times less dense than the Earth’s, with no breathable oxygen.

There’s no water on the surface and the landscape is freezing, with no protection from the Sun’s radiation or from passing dust storms. The key to survival will be technology, research and testing, said JPL, adding Mars 2020 will help on all those fronts.

mars 2020
The next Mars close approach will be on October 6, 2020. Pixabay

When it is launched in July 2020, the spacecraft will carry the latest scientific and engineering tools. Before touchdown on Mars, sensors in the spacecraft’s aeroshell, the capsule that encloses the rover, will study how it heats up and performs during atmospheric entry. The rover has a guidance system that will take a step toward safer landings.

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Called Terrain Relative Navigation, this new system figures out where the spacecraft is headed by taking camera images during descent and matching landmarks in them to a pre-loaded map.If the spacecraft drifts toward dangerous terrain, it will divert to a safer landing target. Living on Mars will require a steady supply of oxygen.

A cube-shaped device, called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, is exploring a space-saving alternative that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. Mars 2020 will carry a ground-penetrating radar to Mars, which will be the first operated at the Martian surface. Scientists will use its high-resolution images to look at buried geology, like ancient lake beds. The rover will also collect science that may help engineers design better shelters for future astronauts, said JPL.  (IANS)