The UAE government has launched a new space mission to explore Venus and 7 asteroids in the solar system, the latest addition in a series of missions that fall under the projects of the 50.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the new project. The mission is set to begin in 2028 and will focus on exploring the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter where the majority of meteorites that impact the earth are found.
أطلقت دولة الإمارات اليوم ضمن مشاريع الخمسين مهمة جديدة في مجال الفضاء .. مهمة لاستكشاف كوكب الزهرة و7 كويكبات أخرى في المجموعة الشمسية … وتنفيذ أول هبوط عربي على كويكب في ختام الرحلة التي ستقطع 3.6 مليار كم (7 أضعاف رحلة مسبار الأمل لكوكب المريخ) pic.twitter.com/mUnB1fmyUu
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) October 5, 2021
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the launch of a new project to explore Venus and the asteroid belt is an ambitious new goal for the country’s burgeoning space program.
Ms. Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency detailed the mission in the presence of the ruler of Dubai and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
“Our goal is clear, to accelerate the development of innovation and knowledge-based enterprises in the Emirates. This can’t be done by going steady-state, this requires leaps in imagination, in faith and the pursuit of goals that go beyond prudent or methodical. When we embarked on the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), we took on a six-year task that was in the order of five times more complex than the Earth observation satellites we were developing. This mission is in the order of five times more complex than EMM.”
The asteroid belt is 3.6 billion kilometers away. It’s around seven times the length of the Hope probe’s journey to Mars. According to reports, it will take seven years to build the spacecraft, with a launch date of 2028. It is predicted that the journey will take five years.
Venus, on the other hand, is less than half the distance of Mars from the earth, at 128 million kilometers compared to Mars’ 395 million kilometers. Throughout its five-year journey, the spacecraft will first orbit Venus, then Earth, building up the velocity to reach the main asteroid belt past Mars.
It will come as close as 109 million kilometers to the Sun and as far as 448 million kilometers, requiring special equipment to deal with both temperature extremes.
The spacecraft will make its first planetary approach and orbit Venus by the middle of 2028. Around a year later it will closely orbit Earth. The first fly-by of the main asteroid belt will occur in 2030 when it will observe seven main-belt asteroids before landing on one, 560 million kilometers from Earth in 2033. This will make the UAE the fourth country to land a spacecraft on an asteroid.