Mission asteroid belt: UAE space agency to land on rare 'red asteroid' in 2034

Called the MBR Explorer for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's vice president, and prime minister, the spacecraft will take off in 2028.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Representational picture of the Asteroid Belt.
Representational picture of the Asteroid Belt.


After the success of the country's first-ever space mission to Mars, the UAE space agency has set an ambitious goal of visiting the solar system's asteroid belt. 

According to Space.com, the space agency issued an official statement about the Emirates Mission to the Asteroid Belt (EMA) on Sunday, May 28. 

The spacecraft for this mission will be called the MBR Explorer — named after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE's vice president, and prime minister — and will be launched in 2028.

The mission was first announced in 2021

As part of the mission, the UAE aims to explore seven asteroids and land on the rare red space rock (269), known as Justitia. 

In 2030, the MBR Explorer will arrive at its first target asteroid. To get to the asteroid belt, the spacecraft will perform gravity-assist maneuvers around Venus, Earth, and Mars to gain speed and save fuel. It will fly close to six asteroids: (10254) Westerwald, (623) Chimaera, (13294) Rockox, (88055) 2000 VA28, (23871) 1998 RC76, and (59980) 1999 SG6. 

Following its visits to these space rocks, the spacecraft will attempt to land on the seventh asteroid, Justitia, by 2034. Discovered in 1887, it is one of the largest known rocks nestled in the main asteroid belt. The asteroid's color is found to be unusually red, indicating that it could contain organic material necessary for the formation of life.  

A high-resolution camera, a thermal infrared camera, a mid-wavelength spectrometer, and an infrared spectrometer will be aboard the spacecraft to investigate the geology, composition, and structure of the asteroids.

Why explore asteroids?

The space rocks that primarily exist between Mars and Jupiter, forming an asteroid belt, could reveal a wealth of information about the early years of our solar system. Asteroids, which contain water and organic molecules, are mostly studied by space scientists in order to understand how life began on Earth. 

And scientists can learn more about this through Justitia, which may have formed closer to our planet and then gradually migrated to its current location in the asteroid belt. 

The main goals of the UAE mission are to understand the origins and evolution of water-rich asteroids, as well as to assess potential resources, which could be mined from the asteroids in the future.

Formed in 2014, UAE’s space agency is one of the youngest in the world, and it is already credited with successfully launching a probe to Mars on its first attempt. The UAE's Hope Mars orbiter is still sending back valuable data about the Red Planet. ​​It will be interesting to see how this proposed mission develops over the next few years.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board