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|17 January, 2019

Three satellites being built in UAE to study climate change impact

The three satellites under construction are not for profit, but for science.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Satellite Against Earth.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Satellite Against Earth.

Getty Images/Jose Luis Stephens / EyeEm

The UAE Space Agency has three satellites under construction, which will help tackle climate change and contribute to the global science community once launched into space.

Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, told Khaleej Times: "The three satellites under construction are not for profit, but for science. I think when we have these satellites up and running, we will learn a lot about Earth and how to plan and utilise it in the most efficient and effective way," he said.

The agency is taking part in the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, where they are highlighting the importance the space sector plays across different industries.

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"I think space is part of Earth's sustainability, and space sustainability is also important. It has a great contribution to the global sustainable development goals. The conference is an opportunity for us to engage with the environmental community. We will learn from them as we also highlight how space is important for their cause," Al Ahbabi said.

Speaking on the ongoing Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) and the country's aim to learn about the red planet, he said the new knowledge and research developments can help the UAE tackle issues in the environment and health sectors.

The UAE aims to launch an unmanned probe, called Hope, to orbit Mars by July 2020. It will coincide with the country's 50th anniversary and will gather information that will be distributed to the global science community.

"Here in the UAE, we don't have natural water, so we are using technology to get what we need. The same thing goes for food - we import almost everything. The environment here is very difficult - very hot and humid. Energy has its own challenges. These are problems similar to the challenges in Mars. Through space exploration, and when we team up with international organisations, we will come up with solutions that can help us face the challenges here on Earth," he said.

"People don't appreciate the atmosphere of Earth, and this is why you hear about global warming. We try to learn what happened to Mars so we can take care of our blue marble.

"This is the big science message or contribution to the international community - how to take care of our planet. Otherwise, you have to live inside; no more beaches," Al Ahbabi said.

Mission on schedule

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre is hosting its annual Science Event from January 21 to January 22, where students and teachers will learn about the Mars mission.

Omran Al Sharaf, project manager of the EMM, told Khaleej Times that the mission is on schedule.

"We will have the EMM annual science meeting at the Science Event, which will give the UAE's science community and academic sector a chance to get more exposed to the EMM and even become part of it and contribute to the mission, especially when we start receiving data after launching and reaching Mars in 2020," he said.

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