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Emirates Mars Mission and Dubai Airshow 2021 woo students with Planet X challenge

Students will have an opportunity to learn how to code and design robots for deep space exploration, and the winning team will receive AED 50,000 ($13,586).

Emirates Mars Mission, in partnership with the Dubai Airshow 2021, has launched Planet X – a new nationwide competition designed to inspire a new generation of talent to build careers in the fast-growing global space and aviation industries.

The multidisciplinary contest will create and exciting opportunities for the country’s youth who are interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a two-month contest to build, code and design robots for deep space exploration.

Emirates Mars Mission’s Planet X challenge kicks off with a pre-qualification round in September, followed by a week of training in October. The main challenge takes place during the Dubai Airshow 2021, running from 14-18 November, where high school and university students will be required to create ground and aerial robots for reconnaissance missions on Planet X Up to AED 50,000 is available for the winning team.

Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the Emirates Mars Mission – Hope Probe, said: “Empowering youth is an important part our long-term vision to enhance the nation’s global position in all space-related fields and create a new cadre of leaders that can push the boundaries of science and technology. Planet X, in partnership with the Dubai Airshow 2021, aims to inspire young people with skills in science, engineering, technology and maths. By building and coding robots to successfully carry out complex reconnaissance missions on Mars, we will demonstrate how exciting and rewarding a career in space science can be. We want to inspire students to reach for the stars and contribute to our nation’s meteoric rise in deep space exploration and I believe our new competition will deliver on this.”

Timothy Hawes, Managing Director at Tarsus F&E, organisers of Dubai Airshow 2021, added: “Since its launch, Dubai Airshow has been a platform for fostering new talents and inspiring the next generation to be part of the global aerospace industry. We are delighted to be supporting major initiatives like the Emirates Mars Mission Planet X, which provides students with an opportunity to showcase their skills, learn from the industry’s leading experts, and pave their way towards a career in the space industry.”

To enter Planet X, students must complete a pre-qualification challenge which is open. Applicants are required to design an aircraft capable of carrying out missions on Mars, answer technical details about how it would work in practice, as well as compete in a live coding challenge that will take place in September.

The most successful 40 students will be invited to receive rigorous training and mentorship from engineers and technologists. They will learn how to build, design and develop state-of-the-art robots and 3D-printed aircraft alongside the team that successfully sent the Hope Probe to Mars.

The main challenge will take place in November during the Dubai Airshow 2021. To complete their mission successfully, students will have to complete a number of complex challenges: First, build an unnamed ground vehicle to study the surface of Planet X and seek out a specific location to collect samples using Lego Mindstorms EV3, a third-generation robotics kit. Where  there will be different programming complexities for high-school and university students. All robots will have to feature built-in sensors and actuators. Student teams will also have five minutes to complete a simulated mission without any support or assistance.

The second challenge will involve designing an unmanned aerial vehicle to glide above the Martian planet for reconnaissance missions. Students will be required to use CAD Fusion 360 modelling software to design and 3D print the aircraft, as well as share a technical presentation on its design.

The Planet X challenge is part of continuous efforts to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM. As part of this, Emirates Mars Mission is driving innovation, building educational capabilities and creating new opportunities for the nation’s youth.