Wednesday 28 October 2020, 01:47 PM
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 4/18/2016 12:00:00 AM

The historical and cordial relationship between India and UAE, has in recent months, assumed a new, strategic dimension following a common focus on fighting the menace of global terrorism propped up by religious fundamentalist groups including al Qaida and Islamic State. A joint statement issued on the occasion of the recent New Delhi visit of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, strongly condemned the efforts to use “terrorism as instruments of state policy”. The statement, which took forward the position of both UAE and India on the dynamics of global terrorism, observed,”They reiterated their condemnation for efforts including by all states, to use religion to justify,  support and sponsor terrorism against other countries, or to use terrorism as  an instrument of state policy .“Not surprisingly then, UAE has now started acting tough on fighting the menace of terrorism by deporting the expatriate Indians radicalized by terrorist outfits including Islamic State. 

 Looking beyond the much deliberated  issue of global terrorism, UAE has now set its sight on stars and sought Indian assistance for its  landmark celestial  odyssey aimed at realizing Arab World’s first ever mission to Mars. As envisaged now and everything going as planned , this deep space planetary mission would take off  by June 2020.An agreement that  UAE Space Agency  entered into with the Indian Space Research Organisation( ISRO) seeks the assistance of  the Indian space agency for its Mars mission.However, details of the agreement have not been revealed. Evidently, there is no clarity as to whether Indian launch vehicle would be used for delivering the UAE’s maiden Mars spacecraft into orbit.
The Mars spacecraft that UAE wants to launch will be a compact hexagonal space platform with a takeoff weight of 1500-kg.The payload details of UAE’s Mars spacecraft are yet to be finalized. “This is the Arab World’s version of President Kennedy’s moon shot—it’s vision for the future that can engage and excite a new generation of Emirate and Arab youth,” said Yousef AlOtabia, UAE’s ambassador to US. The UAE Space Agency, which is responsible for developing, fostering and regulating a sustainable world class space sector, has named its maiden mission to Mars Al Amal, meaning hope in Arabic .
The agreement signed between ISRO and UAE Space Agency also covers cooperation in space technology, space science and applications including remote sensing, satellite radicalized and satellite based navigation. This is for the first time in the history of the bilateral relations between the two countries that a space cooperation pact has been signed.After inking of the agreement between ISRO and UAE space agency, Reem Al Hashimi, UAE’s Minister of State for International Development, said “We recently launched the UAE Space Agency. We are looking at developing science around space particularly developing Mars mission that will culminate hopefully by 2020-21 when we celebrate out golden jubilee as a nation. This is another demonstration of UAE’s forward looking and pioneering initiative where focus is on developing partnership with those who have space expertise”.
Of course, UAE has for long been a never centre of thriving space activities. The fully state owned Dubaisat-1 earth observation  satellite was launched in 2009. This was followed by the launch of follow on earth observation satellite, Dubaisat-2 in 2013.Khalifsat, the first UAE made satellite, is expected to be launched in2018. Prior to that, the UAE based, privately owned communications company,Thuraya, launched its first satellite Thuraya-1  in the year 2000.Thuraya, which now operates two satellites, provides a range of  mobile services to the customers spread  across more than one hundred countries.
On another front, the UAE based satellite operator Yashsat, which is a subsidiary of the  state owned Mubadala Development, has already two satellites in orbit with the third one all set to take off next year.Yashsat offers a range of communications services including voice, internet and TV. The third Yashsat satellite will help extend the broadband services to 19 countries including those in Africa and Latin America  .
Sources in UAE Space Agency point out that Al Amal, will in particular, explore the climate of Mars and in the process contribute to mankind’s quest to know more about the Red Planet. “Our mission is aimed at producing the first ever true, global picture of the Martian atmosphere. This is the first holistic study of Martian climate and how the layers of atmosphere fit together,” said OmranSharafUAE Mars Mission Project Manager.“We have to be ready by July 2020.There is no second chance.It is race against time,”said Sharaf. The lead agency for UAE’s Mars mission is the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, a Government of Dubai entity.This planetary mission is planned to arrive at Mars in 2021 coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the formation of UAE.
In Sept.2015, a delegation of UAE space Agency had visited ISRO in Bengaluru with a view to discuss the possibilities ofspace  cooperation between the two countries. The UAE delegation was led by KhalifaMohammed  AlRumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency  and Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, its Director General. During the visit the UAE delegation learnt about the strides made by India in space exploration including its Mars OrbiterMission(MOM).The delegation also paid a visit to the satellite fabrication and testing facility in Bengaluru. “The UAE and India have deep bonds and connections that span across political, economic ,commercial and cultural and historic roots.Working together within the space sector will only strengthen these connections and bring benefits to the UAE that include knowledge transfer and human capital development “Al Rumaithi said. On the other hand, AlAhbabiobserved that India is one of the most advanced nations  in the space sector and has a strong foundation and fascinating space programme.
Perhaps what nudged UAE to seek the assistance of the Indian space agency for its Mars mission is the fact that ISRO had achieved  the distinction of being the  first space agency to send a Mars probe into the orbit around the Red Planet in the very first attempt.Moreover, the Mars mission of both China and Japan had failed to reachthe  orbit around the Red Planet. Prior to India’sMOM,only  21 out of the  51 missions, had succeeded in reaching Mars. This is due to the complexity and large number of variables involved in an inter planetary mission. The objective of the Indian Mars mission was primarily technological and included design, realization and launch of Mars Orbiter spacecraft capable of operating with sufficient autonomy during the journey phase of 300 days followed by Mars Orbiter insertion and in orbit operational phase around Mars.
The Indian MOM also referred to as Mangalyaan carries five  scientificinstruments with a total weight of  15 kg. to study various aspects and features of the Red Planet. The scientific objectives of Mangalyaan are focussed on the study of the morphology, topography and mineralogy of the Red Planet, looking for tell tale sings of the presence of methane in Maritan atmosphere and map the dynamics of the upper atmospheric region of Mars.Indeed,Mangalyaan stands out as a vibrant symbol of India’s growing prowess in space exploration, It is being viewed as a stepping stone  for India’s deeper forays into outer space in the years ahead. Considered a natural follow on to India’s hugely successful lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1 launched in Oct 2008,Mangalyaan has helped ISRO develop a number of new and innovative  technologies involved in the design, management and operation of interplanetary missions. Launched by means of an augmented version of the four stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) in Nov.2013,MOM entered the orbit around the Mars in Sept.2014.
India’s expertise in developing and delivering space projects at a highly affordable cost could also have prompted UAE to seek Indian expertise for its Mar mission.There is no denying the point that  Mangalyaan, with a price tag of Rs.4500-million, is the cheapest ever ticket to Mars.Innovation, indigenisation and frugal engineering are considered the secrets of India’s low cost space missions.For instance, Jeffrey Plascia, a researcher at Jon Hopkins University in USA, says that the cost of Indian Mars mission is less than 0.1% of India’s annual budget. Significantly, the widely respected British aerospace magazine Flight International had said, “Remarkably, ISRO has spent a mere US$75-million on the Mangalyaan mission, an astoundingly small budget for a project so complex. By comparison, Alfonso Curain’s acclaimed 2013 space epic, Gravity, staring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney was made at an estimated budget of US$100-milliion.Significantly, Mars has sparked the greatest human interest and curiosity as the conditions on the Red Planet are believed to be hospitable since the planet is similar to earth in many ways.
 Meanwhile ,experts familiar with the Far Eastern Affairs believe India’s strides in space exploration, as proven by the launch of Asia’s first successful mission to the Red Planet, could nudge South Korea to seek Indian assistance to  realize its soaring space ambitions  And coinciding with the visit to India of French President Francois Hollande,  ISRO and its French counterpart CNES had inked a letter of intent  on January 25  to facilitate French participation in India’s next mission to Mars  which would be a follow on to the MOM.However, details about  the proposed Indo-French Mars mission have not yet been revealed .Whether it would  be an orbiter mission or a  landing mission with rover will be known only after the extensive interaction between the two space agencies.





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