Columnist Leonard David

United Arab Emirates to Launch Mars Mission by 2021

UAE Space Agency Mars Mission
This graphic details the proposed UAE Space Agency Mars mission. (Image credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre)

The United Arab Emirates' Space Agency has unveiled its official strategy and operational plan, and it takes bold aim at Mars with a planned robotic mission to the Red Planet by 2021.

The UAE Mars probe, called Hope, is slated to launch in time for the 50th anniversary of the UAE and forms a major element of the national space agency's official roadmap, which was unveiled on May 25. The UAE has already released a video outlining its Mars Hope mission

Under the new space strategy, the UAE aims to develop the country's space sector, draw up space policies and regulation, and direct national space programs that will benefit the UAE's economy and develop human capital. The UAE also hosted the Global Space and Satellite forum in Abu Dhabi in late May. That event is hosted by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center with the endorsement of the UAE Space Agency and aims to gather key regional and international stakeholders and decision makers from the space and satellite industry. [The Boldest Missions to Mars of All Time]

The UAE government has already invested 5.4 billion U.S. dollars in space technologies, and about 150 Emirati scientists and engineers will participate in the mission.

This graphic details the journey of the proposed UAE Space Agency Mars probe. (Image credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre)

Science at Mars

Engineers at the UAE Space Agency's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre discuss work on a sun shield for the Hope Mars probe, a robotic spacecraft to launch toward Mars by 2021. (Image credit: Dubai Media Office)

The probe will create mankind's first integrated model of the atmosphere of Mars. The spacecraft will collect and send back to earth over 1,000 gigabytes of new Mars data. This information will be received in the Science Data Centre in the UAE through different ground stations spread around the world.

The spacecraft will carry the following set of science instruments to Mars:

  • Imager: a digital camera that sends back high-resolution color images
  • Infrared Spectrometer: to examine temperature patterns, ice, water vapor and dust in the Martian atmosphere
  • Ultraviolet Spectrometer: to study Mars' upper atmosphere and traces of oxygen and hydrogen further out into space.

Strategic partnership

UAE Space Agency meeting. (Image credit: UAE Space Agency)

In a related development, France and the UAE, the UAE Space Agency and the Centre National d'EtudesSpatiales, (the National Centre of Space Studies of France) also known as CNES, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a strategic space partnership between the two entities.

The agreement represents the UAE Space Agency's first international Memorandum of Understanding with a foreign agency for partnership and cooperation in space.

For more on the UAE Space Agency's planned Mars mission, visit:

Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin's 2013 book "Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration" published by National Geographic with a new updated paperback version released this month. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Story published on

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.