The Biggest Skyscraper Yet: U.A.E. Sets Sights On Mars

Worldwide, many people have looked to the skies, considering if humanity's future could lead us there.  The planet Mars has recently gained attention as a possible attractive option for this.  Some people want to rush into a Martian endeavor with no real means of achieving it, while others ask for ideas and offer rewards so that good plans may be formulated.  And now, there's a new player in interplanetary politics...

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Today at a conference in Dubai, plans were outlined for the United Arab Emirates to launch a probe to Mars in 2020.  As reported by the Washington Post, the plan, which was initially concocted last year, will entail an unmanned orbiter called "Hope" ("al-Amal" in Arabic) launching from Earth and eventually taking laps around Mars, studying the atmosphere and relaying data.

No camels were harmed in the making of this space mission.  Hopefully.
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Outside of a few satellites orbiting Earth, this will be the first of this kind of major space mission for the Arab world.

“This mission to Mars is really for the hope of the Arab world and will send them a message to say you can be better, you can improve your country,” explained Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emirates’ vice president and prime minister.

No word on whether "Hope" will be gold-plated or diamond-studded, as is fashion in Dubai.
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The project will be staffed entirely by Emiratis, in an effort to expand their science and technology status on the world stage.  The 2020 launch will coincide with Dubai's hosting of the World Expo, although the probe will take 7-9 months to reach Mars.  It is then expected to remain in orbit until 2023, documenting various features such as canyons, volcanoes, atmospheric conditions, and other observations that could bring insight on the red planet.

The probe will also assess as to whether the U.A.E. could maybe slap a few of these up there.
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Sheikh Mohammed was enthusiastic about the mission for myriad reasons, telling The National:

"The mission will send three important messages.  The first is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge and will play that role again.

“The second is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge.

“The third is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions and you can even reach space.”

Now that we're racing rivals, can NASA please get a little bigger budget?
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