Meet Sarah Al-Amiri, woman scientist in charge of leading UAE’s mission to Mars

The United Arab Emirates is planning to send a spacecraft to Mars and the reins of the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission is in the hands of a woman. In an interview with the BBC, scientist Sarah Al-Amiri who is in charge of the mission said that the probe took over six years to build.

Amiri, who is UAE’s minister of State for Advanced Technology, expressed her nervousness and said that team has invested more than six years into the mission that primarily aims to finding out more about the Red Planet. The mission will try and unearth the reason behind Mars’ barren, dusty atmosphere and environment by closely studying its weather and climate. The Red Planet once contained oceans just like Earth, what turned it into a dry and dusty planet remains a mystery yet to be solved.

In the interview, Amiri said the vastness of the universe and complexities of the space has always excited and mesmerised her, thereby igniting her curiosity.

The Mars mission comes as a huge leap for the UAE, which by far has only launched satellites into the Earth’s orbit. The country’s spacecraft, named Hope or “al-Amal” in Arabic, has been built with the help of US scientists.

Hope will be launched on a Japanese rocket and is likely to take around seven months to reach the Red Planet. Once there, it will loop the planet for a whole Martian year — 687 days. The spacecraft will be be launched on July 15, 12:51:27 am (UAE time) and will take off from Japan’s remote Tanegashima Space Center.

“In my heart of hearts, I’m looking forward to the initial 24 hours after separation, and that’s where we see the results of our work,” said Amiri as reported by news agency AFP.

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