The second edition of the annual Science Event, organised and hosted by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), saw the centre’s senior directors — the initial batch of four Emiratis selected and trained to steer the MBRSC and its initiatives — chronicle their early experiences and the centre’s eventful journey as it launched, in turns, Dubai Sat-1, Dubai Sat-2, and finally, the fully Emirati-built KhalifaSat Earth observation satellites into space.
The event served as a meeting ground for academics, space scientists and specialists, researchers, and scientifically inclined students from schools and universities across the region. Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the two-day event has been specifically designed to communicate a deeper understanding of space science and technology, as well as cultivate an interest in the field in the UAE’s budding new generation.
H.E. Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, Director General of the MBRSC, commented: “Under the guidance of its wise leadership, the UAE is moving steadily towards a robust knowledge-based economy that relies on diversified sources. The government has established a strong foundation for sectors related to sustainability, innovation, technology and space exploration, and has listed these fields as national indicators in line with strategic planning to ensure a prosperous future for generations.”
He added: “The Year of Zayed saw a number of great achievements for the UAE in the space sector, one of which is the complete manufacturing of Earth observation satellite KhalifaSat, which is the first fully Emirati-built satellite at the MBRSC’s facilities; this year – the year of tolerance – we will continue to create new opportunities to build national capabilities in the fields of technological innovation, R&D and space science.”
Further lectures and panel discussions from the experts at the MBRSC and other leaders in the field followed suit and highlighted the ‘Role of Science in Space Exploration’, ‘What You Should Know About Mars’, the ‘7 Month Journey to Mars’ which outlined the Hope Probe’s 60 million-kilometre journey to the red planet, ‘New Fields of Knowledge through the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)’, ‘Stories from KhalifaSat’ and ‘Why Space’.
The event also housed a dedicated ‘Mars Hall’, which featured a line-up of sessions engineered specifically for students: from a documentary on travelling to Jupiter, to outlining a step-by-step sketch of how students can join up with the MBRSC through internships and scholarships, to segments presented by MBRSC experts on topics such as ‘Exploring the Universe’, ‘Analysis of Space Images’, ‘Building Structures on Mars’ and ‘Satellite Communication’.
H.E. Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, opened the ‘Fourth Annual Science Workshop of the Emirates Mars Mission – Hope Probe’. This year’s installment of the workshop focused on the role of the three science instruments utilised within the EMM, explained the evolution of Mars, whether the red planet can sustain human life, as well as a comprehensive round-up of Mars missions conducted over the last 20 years.
Workshops held during the first day included: ‘Navigation through Stars’, the ‘Lunar Journey’, ‘Logistics: All the Way to Space’, ‘What Does It Take to be Astronauts’, ‘Space Technology’, ‘How Do We Build Satellites in the UAE’ and ‘Imagine Space Exploration in 500 Years’. Day one also featured a commentary on student experiences thus far with the MBRSC’s previous programmes, including the ‘Zero Gravity Experience’ and the ‘Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Programme’.
Other experiences designed for students spanned an authentic spacesuit display, a taste-testing experience of food consumed by astronauts in outer space, a thirty-minute escape room challenge and a space-jump experience.
Day two of the event featured expert panels on ‘Living on Mars’, ‘Women in Space’ and ‘Selection of the UAE’s First Astronaut Corps’, as well as presentations on ‘Earth Observation Satellites to Serve Humanity’ and ‘Robotic Martians’. The Mars Hall featured presentations on ‘Life on the International Space Station’, a comprehensive showcase of Mars research grant projects, how students can be a part of the MBRSC’s next Space Explorer Camp and a chronicle of expert experiences in the space sector. Further workshops conducted onsite covered Mars geology and the lower and upper atmospheres of the red planet, exo planets, remote sensing 3D modeling, understanding what satellites are made of, and the defining differences between Earth and Mars.