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UAE partners with NASA on Mars missions

The United Arab Emirates has partnered with US space agency NASA on a Mars mission to boost scientific collaborations on the Red Planet.

The country’s first interplanetary exploration Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) has finalized a science data analysis collaboration initiative with NASA’s MAVEN Mars Mission, to enhance scientific returns from both spacecraft – currently orbiting Mars and observing the Red Planet’s atmosphere.

The partnership will enable the sharing and collaborative analysis of data and observations made by the EMM’s Hope Probe and NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) project. It will also pave the way toward greater scientific collaboration and data exchange between the two missions.

MAVEN completed its Mars orbit insertion in 2014. Its mission is to investigate the upper atmosphere and ionosphere of Mars, offering an insight into how the planet’s climate has changed over time.

The Hope Probe, which entered Mars orbit on February 9, last year, is studying the relationship between the upper layer and lower regions of the Martian atmosphere, giving the international science community full access to a holistic view of the planet’s atmosphere at different times of the day, through different seasons.

“EMM science complements MAVEN and the Hope probe was designed to answer scientific objectives aligned directly with MEPAG goals. Its observations were always designed to provide new insights that weren’t possible from past Mars missions,” said Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission, in a statement.

“Now, by combining the two datasets from the EMM and MAVEN missions and analyzing the results together, we can build a powerful response to many fundamental questions we have about Mars and the evolution and dynamics of its atmosphere,” he added.

EMM was designed to answer a number of objectives defined by the global grouping of Mars scientists and researchers, MEPAG – the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group.

Following on from MAVEN and other previous missions, Hope set out to measure the global, diurnal and seasonal response of the Martian atmosphere to solar forcing; the atmospheric conditions relating to the rate of atmospheric escape a” particularly of hydrogen and oxygen and the temporal and spatial behavior of Mars’ exosphere.

With early results showing exciting observations of Mars’ discrete aurora and additional bandwidth and resources available to encompass additional observations, further measurements of auroral phenomena have been brought into the mission’s goals, extending its capabilities beyond Hope’s planned goals.

“MAVEN and EMM are each exploring different aspects of the Martian atmosphere and upper-atmosphere system. Combined, we will have a much better understanding of the coupling between the two and the influence of the lower atmosphere on escape to space of gas from the upper atmosphere,” said Shannon Curry, a Research scientist in planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley and MAVEN Principal Investigator.

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