UAE Mars Mission Captures First Pictures of Red Planet’s Aurora

The United Arab Emirates’s Mars mission has captured the first images of the discrete aurora phenomenon in the red planet’s nightside atmosphere.

The images, taken by the Hope Probe, show a ghostly glow known as the discrete aurora. The pictures were released five months after the UAE became just the fifth nation to enter the Red Planet’s orbit.

“The implications for our understanding of Mars’ atmospheric and magnetospheric science are tremendous and provide new support to the theory that solar storms are not necessary to drive Mars’ aurora,” said the mission’s Science Lead, Hessa Al Matroushi.

Space Technology is a key part of the Gulf state’s plans to reduce its dependence on oil. The country entered the space race last year when it launched the first Arab mission to Mars. It established a space agency in 2014, sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station five years later, and plans to send an unmanned spaceship to the moon in 2024.

The latest observations have “opened a new realm for this mission and actually increased the potential outcome when it comes to research,” Sarah Al Amiri, UAE minister of state for advanced technology, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

The United Arab Emirates’s investment in space exploration has created a “ripple effect in society,” she had said in an earlier interview at the Bloomberg New Economy Catalyst. The Emirates Mars mission, which marked the UAE’s first excursion into deep space, was given about $200 million, she said.

The start of the mission was about diversifying the economy through developing skills for space and “across different sectors that require complex technological systems,” Al Amiri said. Now, the space agency is focusing on ensuring mechanisms are in place to support a “very risky business,” and turning data from scientific missions “into impactful outcomes for the economy.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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