According to Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, the Director General of the MBRSC: “The REU programme falls under the umbrella of the MBRSC’s educational initiatives, which are aligned with the vision the UAE’s leadership has to educate the nation’s next generation in space science. This supports the UAE’s ambitious aspirations to reach a national economy based on knowledge and innovation, and to enhance the competitiveness and leadership of the UAE as a global hub for space science.”
The program will involve Mars research, investigating the science of climate change, and basic analysis of data. Previous REU programs have already led to at least one participant becoming a part of NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) project. The REU initiative is part of the UAE’s Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), which involves the planned launch of the hexagonal Hope spacecraft in 2020.
The craft is expected to land on Mars in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the founding of UAE, and aims to create the “first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere.” Among its scientific goals are understanding the climate dynamics of the Red Planet, studying the loss of oxygen and hydrogen in the upper atmosphere, and tracking the planet’s weather.
The EMM is just one of the UAE’s major commitments to exploring and understanding Mars—they’ve already announced plans to build a simulated Martian city and eventually a full-fledged Mars colony.