UAE to land probe on asteroid between Mars and Jupiter

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency plans to launch the MBR Explorer unmanned interplanetary probe in March 2028 to the main asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The probe will fly over seven asteroids up to 150km away.

The main objectives of the mission are to assess the feasibility of mining raw materials from asteroids to support future long-duration manned missions, and to study the properties of main belt asteroids, including their origin, formation and evolution.

MBR Explorer will visit its first asteroid in 2030 and will land on the surface of the asteroid Justicia four years later. Its surface may contain organic molecules; organic matter is the building blocks of complex viable molecules.

Scientists are searching for water and organic matter throughout the solar system to better understand how life originated on Earth. There is speculation that Justicia formed closer to our planet and then migrated to its present position.

The rest of the mission includes overflights of the asteroids (10254) Westerwald, (623) Chimera, (13294) Rocox, and (88055) 2000 VA28, (23871) 1998 RC76 and (59980) 1999 SG6. Justicia and Chimaera are about 50 km in diameter, while the other asteroids are less than 10 km in diameter.

A high-resolution camera, infrared thermal imager, mid-wave spectrometer and infrared spectrometer will be used to study the geology, composition and structure of the asteroids.

The UAE space agency was formed in 2014 and is one of the youngest in the world; by comparison, NASA was established in 1958 in the US. The UAE’s Hope probe, launched in 2020, was the first Arab spacecraft to reach Mars on its first attempt.

Source: The National

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