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Questions we’re answering

Why is Mars losing its atmosphere?

Long ago, Mars had an atmosphere that could sustain liquid water on the surface. Liquid water is key to life on Earth. But unlike Earth, Mars has been steadily losing its atmosphere over time. The Martian atmosphere is now so cold and thin that water can exist only as ice or vapour.
The Emirates Mars Mission probe will study how the climate, cycles and behaviour of the lower atmosphere affect the escape of oxygen and hydrogen from the upper atmosphere. The science team hopes to discover why these elements – the building blocks of water – have been escaping into space.
The probe will investigate how the atmosphere changes throughout its daily and seasonal cycles. The Mars science community will gain new insights about the weather on Mars, such as its famous dust storms. On Earth, dust storms are brief and localised, like the sandstorms that we see in the UAE. On Mars, massive storms of red dust are known to engulf the entire planet.

A partnership with the international Mars exploration community

The Emirates Mars Mission team has coordinated closely with the global Mars science community from the outset in order to identify gaps in human knowledge that no other missions have studied. In this way, it will provide answers to the global scientific community’s most pressing questions about Mars. This process has been managed through the international Mars Exploration Program and Analysis Group.
Specifically, the Emirates Mars Mission will be the first probe to study climate throughout daily and seasonal cycles – previous probes took snapshots only at a certain time of day. It will be Mars’s first true weather satellite. It will the be the first to study the effects that events in the lower atmosphere, such as changes in temperature and dust storms, can have in the upper atmosphere days or weeks later. It will be the first to examine the interaction between climate and geography, such as links and differences between weather on the peaks of Mars’s massive volcanoes and in the depths of its canyons.

Advancing human knowledge

Today, almost all of our understanding of climate comes from scientific studies of the atmosphere here on Earth. Mars is a valuable laboratory for atmosphere science because conditions there are very different. The insights and data we gain from understanding the Martian climate will add new dimensions to human knowledge about how atmospheres work. This is important not just for Mars and Earth, but also for the millions of other potentially habitable planets recently discovered in our galaxy. Studying the atmosphere on Mars will help scientists evaluate distant worlds for conditions that might support life.

How will the data be used?

The spacecraft will collect and send back to Earth over 1000 gigabytes of new Mars data. This information will be received in the Science Data Center in the UAE via different ground stations spread around the world. These never-seen-before data will be catalogued and analysed in the UAE by the Emirates Mars Mission science team, and then shared freely with the international Mars science community as a service to human knowledge.
The data will be used by thousands of members of the world science community for many years to come in ways that, today, we cannot even begin to imagine. Faculty, research scientists, postdocs, and students worldwide will use these findings to better understand planetary and climate development throughout our solar system and, ultimately, to further our understanding of Earth’s place in the Universe.


Key science goals
Integrate with the global Mars science community on key questions that no other mission has addressed.
Search for connections between today’s weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet.
Study why Mars is losing its atmosphere to space by tracking the behaviour and escape of hydrogen and oxygen, which are the building blocks of water.
Investigate how the lower and upper levels of the Martian atmosphere are connected.
Create the first global picture of how the Martian atmosphere changes throughout the day and between the seasons.
Science data
Hope will send to Earth over 1000 gigabytes of new data about Mars
Mission team
More than ​75 Emiratis will work on the ​​Emirates Mars Mission team, expected to reach 150 before 2020
More than 200 other personnel at U.S. partner institutions will also contribute

The ​​Emirates Mars Mission Team

The ​​Emirates Mars Mission is managed in the UAE by an Emirati team divided into seven groups including Spacecraft, Logistics, Mission Operation, Project Science Education and Outreach, Ground Station, and Launch Vehicle. The ​75+ strong team will build a core capability to develop and share the UAE’s space knowledge base.

News & Updates

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