On Tuesday, The United Arab Emirates announced their plans to collect data realated to the origins of the universe, by send a probe to land on and asteroid which is between Mars and Jupiter, the latest project in the oil-rich federation’s ambitious space program.
If the landing is successful, the UAE will join an elite club of the European Union, Japan, and the United States as the only countries to have done so on an asteroid or comet. As long as the probe’s batteries are charged, it will remain on the asteroid, transmitting information back about the asteroid’s composition to Earth on the composition of the asteroid as long as batteries are kept charged.
The target of the project is to launch in 2028 with a landing in 2033, which is a five year journey in which the spacecraft will travel around 2.2 billion miles. To get enough speed to reach an asteroid which is almost 350 million miles away, the spacecraft would have to slingshot around Venus and then the Earth.
The data the Emirates will collect is still being decided, but the mission will be even more difficult than previous ones because the spacecraft will travel both near and far from the sun, according to Sarah al-Amiri, the chair of the UAE Space Agency and a minister of state for advanced technology.
“Because this comes on the back of the Emirates Mars mission, it is several factors harder, rather than exponentially harder,” al-Amiri told The Associated Press. “If we went to get this mission done from the get-go without having the background that we currently have from the Emirates Mars mission, it will be very difficult to achieve.”
As per NASA, there are around 1.1 million known asteroids that are remnants of its formation in the solar system. The majority of them orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter, which is the target of the Emirati mission. Their make-up includes the elements that make up the modern world.