Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to launch an asteriod mission, which will visit seven different asteroids in 2028.
It will be the UAE’s second interplanetary effort. The first, the Emirates Mars Mission, arrived at Mars in February and started its official science run May 23.
The EMM launched an orbiter called Hope to the Red Planet in July 2020, the Space.com reported.
“Our goal is clear: to accelerate the development of innovation and knowledge-based enterprises in the Emirates,” UAE Space Agency chair Sarah Al Amiri was quoted as saying.
“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, we took on a six-year task that was (on) the order of five times more complex than the Earth-observation satellites we were developing. This mission is (on) the order of five times more complex than EMM,” Al Amiri said.
The new asteroid mission, whose name has not yet been revealed, will perform speed-boosting flybys of Venus and Earth in mid-2028 and mid-2029, respectively, and make it to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 2030.
The probe will study seven different asteroids up close over the course of its mission, which will culminate with a landing on a space rock in 2033.
So far, only a handful of missions — NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker and OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, and Japan’s Hayabusa1 and Hayabusa2 probes — could make a soft landing on an asteroid.
For the mission, the UAE will also with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, which is also a key partner on the Hope Mars mission.
The science goals of the asteroid mission, and the instruments it will carry, will be announced in next year, UAE officials said.
The asteroid mission also includes the planned delivery of a moon rover called Rashid to the lunar surface in 2022, the report said.