The United Arab Emirates will launch a new space mission to explore Venus and the solar system’s asteroid belt, the UAE government announced in a tweet Tuesday.
Plans include a craft landing on one of the asteroids, marking the first time an Arab space mission has landed on an asteroid, Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid said in a tweet.
“The launch of a new project to explore Venus and the asteroid belt sets an ambitious new goal for our country’s burgeoning space program,” said Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of capital Abu Dhabi in a tweet.
“The UAE is determined to make a meaningful contribution to space exploration, scientific research and our understanding of the solar system.”
Mars has already been targeted by the UAE’s space program with its Hope probe, which entered the red planet’s orbit in February 2021.
Hope is collecting data about Mars’ atmosphere by using various visible light and infrared cameras.
The asteroid mission will involve a 3.6 billion kilometer journey, seven times further from Earth than the Emirates Mars Mission, Mohammed bin Rashid said in a tweet.
Venus, on the other hand, is less than half the distance of Mars from earth, at 128 million kilometers compared to Mars’ 395 million kilometers.
Venus is the closest planet to Earth and was the first to be explored by spacecraft with NASA’s Mariner 2, which flew by in 1962.
Several Soviet craft landed on the planet’s surface, but did not survive long due to the intense air pressure (equivalent to one mile underwater on earth) and temperature, which is around 475 degrees Celsius on the surface.