Daring new mission to the asteroid belt will study Venus and seven unknown worlds


The United Arab Emirates will fly over Venus en route to the asteroid belt.

ESA / MPS / DLR / IDA, M. Pérez-Ayúcar & C. Wilson

On the heels of the Hope Mars mission, the United Arab Emirates have announced that they will begin building another interplanetary probe to be launched in 2028, with the aim of visiting Venus and seven worlds in the asteroid belt over the next 12 years.

The mission, announced on Tuesday by UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, will fly over the second hell planet from the sun in mid-2028, circling the planet on its way back from Earth and towards the asteroid belt. . It will be built over the next seven years and its journey will allow it to accumulate over 3.6 billion kilometers (over 2.2 billion miles).

“The UAE is committed to making a significant contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system,” tweeted Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Tuesday.

The goal of the mission will be to explore seven objects in the Asteroid Belt, a region of space between Mars and Jupiter stacked with millions of oddly shaped rocks orbiting the sun. Objects inside the belt have been studied by space agencies, like NASA, in the past, but the UAE’s ambitious mission will aim to image seven asteroids and then hit one to take a sample.

If they can achieve all of this, the UAE would become the fourth country to touch the surface of an asteroid. It won’t be easy.

“This mission is on the order of five times more complex than the EMM,” Sarah bint Yousif Al Amiri, president of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, said in a press release.

As with the Hope mission, the United Arab Emirates agency will work with the Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The name of the mission will be announced later.

Venus has become an increasingly popular target for space missions over the past year. NASA plans to launch two spaceships on the planet, and the Indian Space Agency and the European Space Agency are also preparing their own probes to explore it.

While many explorers of Venus have been the subject of discussion for years, there has been a lot of hype about its potential habitability since. 2020 study found high levels of phosphine – a gas associated with life on Earth – in the clouds of the planet greenhouse. Since publication, the results have been disputed and the data reanalyzed, with a June 2021 study suggesting the planet’s atmosphere is too dry to support microbial life.

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