The future of space: why and how can we get humans to Mars?

Humans to Mars: Chief Scientist at (NASA), said: finds life on Mars will be revolutionary and will start a whole new line of thinking

  • NASA scientists, UAE engineers discuss why and how we bring humans to Mars during Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park summit
  • World’s leading scientists and engineers discuss interplanetary space exploration during the inaugural MENA Innovation Technology Transfer Summit (MITT Summit)
  • International technology summit organised by Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park shed light on Mars exploration

29 September 2020 – Sharjah, UAE,: Why and how can we take humans to Mars? This radical question and other interplanetary space explorations were answered by some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers during the inaugural MENA Innovation Technology Transfer Summit (MITT Summit), organised by the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park).

Dr. James Green, Chief Scientist at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) headquarters, said finds life on Mars will be revolutionary and will start a whole new line of thinking. 

Green noted Mars has water – millions or billions of years ago, and in the present, in underground aquifers and frozen glaciers. Life in Mars could’ve started there he said and added that NASA, which will land on the Red Planet in February 2021, may find portential evidence of past life on Mars.

Green, who has been NASA’s chief scientist since 2018, having been with the space agency since 1980 and directed its Planetary Science Division, said during the MITT Summit that is important to study the atmosphere of Mars. “It was a blue planet and may be now down  of its 13 per cent of the amount of water is used to have, it is a wonderful resource to explore the planet. 

Earlier, in a different forum, he said one promising indication of life on Mars is that every summer, the planet gets gassy, with the amount of methane gas present at the surface increasing dramatically. The Curiosity Rover on Mars also detected molecular oxygen, which increases each spring and summer by up to 30 percent before dropping again in the fall.  “That tells us life may be underground during the summer — the soils heat and therefore loosen up such that the methane can leak out. We have all kinds of circumstantial observations that perhaps Mars has microbial life too,” he explained.

Humans going back to the Moon

Dr. Douglas Terrier, Chief Technology Officer at NASA headquarters, also spoke about his leadership roles at NASA, including the development of spacecraft for NASA’s human exploration program. 

Terrier said NASA revealed this week its latest plan to return astronauts, including the first woman, to the Moon in 2024. 

The first flight, Artemis I, is scheduled for launch on November 2021 but will be unmanned. This will be followed by Artemis II in 2023 with astronauts onboard but will not land on the Moon before sending the first woman and the next man on the surface to the South Pole of the Moon in 2024.

Terrier said: “Any future exploration will be an international collaborative effort – like the ISS (International Space Station), where astronauts are deployed in space for a long period. Our next step is to go back to moon with Artermis program in 2024 for a longer and sustainable stay on the Moon.”

Inspiring the youth

For Omran Sharaf, project manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) that sent the Hope Probe (the first Arab interplanetary mission to Mars), space exploration is about inspiring the youth.

He noted that Hope Probe, which is expected to reach Mars’ orbit next year in time of the UAE’s golden jubilee, means the pride of the nation and the whole region.

Sharaf, one of the first engineers to join MBRSC (Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre) has himself worked his way up through the ranks of the UAE’s burgeoning space program. He said his mission is to inspire younger Emiratis and Arabs to pursue space exploration. 

He also said Hope Probe is the realisation of the vision of the future of the UAE. Hope will be the first probe to take a detailed observation of the Martian atmosphere, including investigating how the lower and upper levels of the planet’s atmosphere are connected, and form a complete picture of how the it varies in entire Martian year.

Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, said he shared the same views as Sharaf that space exploration will benefit and inspire the youth to take space studies. 

He noted motivated young people is giving them something to think big and dream bigger than life. Space exploration will give the youth ideas to ponder on and that is why it is important to pursue interplanetary missions, including going to Mars. 

Dr. Fabienne Casoli, President of the Paris Observatory, meanwhile, shared her experience in the world of administrating research within major French decision-making bodies concerning astronomy and astrophysics. From 2001 to 2007 she was Deputy Scientific Director of the National Institute of Science of the Universe INSU), CNRS, then she was director of the Space Astrophysics Institute (IAS) at Orsay. She is also the author of several works of scientific popularization and has participated in numerous cultural events. 

Historic marathon online conference

MITT Summit is a historic marathon online conference that connected Sharjah, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, New York and major players in the world of technology. 

Organised by SRTI Park, UAE’s premier research and innovation hub, it brought  together global investors, government and private sector representatives, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and other relevant stakeholders for 14 hours of discussions on how to best shape the future of innovation and promote sustainability.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, expressed delight over hosting MITT Summit, that was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

 “MITT Summit is in line with “the vision that anticipates the future” being advocated by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The Middle East is becoming the world’s fastest-growing marketplace for business and technology transformation,” Al Mahmoudi underlined.

He noted the MITT Summit has strengthened the position Sharjah and the UAE as centre of innovation and technology transfer in the Middle East Region. It has also instituted STRI Park as an ideal platform for technology development, technology transfer as well as venture creation and venture building.






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