EMM team receives prestigious international award


EMM team receives prestigious international award

The team responsible for the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first interplanetary mission by an Arab nation, has been awarded the 2023 Laurels for Team Achievement Award. This is the highest team distinction given by the International Academy of Astronautics, which established the honor in 2001 to recognize “extraordinary performance and achievement by a team of scientists, engineers, and managers in the field of Astronautics to foster its peaceful and international use”. 

The academy presented the award to mission leaders during an awards ceremony held as part of the 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2023) in Baku, Azerbaijan. Previous recipients include the Ariane 5 Team Europe for the James Webb Space Telescope launch, the Parker Solar Probe team, and the Cassini-Huygens Team.

“The acknowledgment from the IAA highlights our extraordinary international collaboration, pulling together a tight-knit team from around the world to work together with a single goal and not only achieve that goal, but create a truly transformational project that impacts an entire nation’s progress in the fields of space science, research and technological innovation,” said United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency Chair Sarah Al Amiri.

“Each milestone we reach in the Emirates Mars Mission serves as a cornerstone for nurturing a new generation of scientists and engineers who will chart the UAE’s path toward exciting new frontiers,” added Al Amiri, who previously served as EMM’s deputy project manager and is also the UAE minister of state for public education and advanced technology.

The Emirates Mars Mission was developed by an international team with members from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University, and the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

LASP Director Daniel Baker led the effort to recognize the mission’s team. “It was an honor to nominate EMM for this prestigious award,” he said. “The international team of 450 outstanding engineers, scientists, instrument specialists, and project managers who drove the development and operation of the mission did so at a remarkable pace and with significant innovation,” Baker added. “The results of this unprecedented knowledge partnership have greatly advanced our understanding of the Martian atmosphere. This program has also made the team much more capable for future space exploration objectives.”

Mohsen Al Awadhi, director of the UAE Space Agency’s Space Missions Department, who accepted the award on behalf of the team, said, “We would like to thank the IAA for recognizing our efforts. While this award celebrates past achievements, more importantly, it celebrates the outcome of team effort, and pushes us to pursue research and exploration and create more achievements in the future,” he said. “This award confirms the UAE’s pivotal role in developing space science and technology. We believe that success is achieved through cooperation and partnership with international organizations,” added Al Awadhi.

The mission has helped catalyze the UAE’s science and technology sector and provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. With an innovative elliptical orbit and three scientific instruments, EMM’s Hope probe is the first spacecraft at Mars able to make synoptic images across all times of day at visible, thermal infrared, and far ultraviolet wavelengths. These measurements are providing a picture of Mars’ atmospheric behavior with a frequency and span of observations not previously possible.

Scientific results to date include new observations of discrete aurora, dust storms, and highly variable atmospheric composition that are challenging existing models and preconceptions regarding how Mars’ planetary characteristics control its atmospheric loss. Hope is also discovering unique phenomena, including the first observations of a sinuous discrete aurora, a new class of aurora that stretches thousands of kilometers into the night sky above Mars, and revealing unprecedented observations of Mars’ smallest moon, Deimos.

The UAE launched the Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe in July 2020, making it one of only nine countries to explore the Red Planet. Through the EMM Science Data Center, the resulting data are freely shared with scientists and the public around the globe, setting a high international standard for open-access science.

Founded a decade before NASA, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder is on a mission to transform human understanding of the cosmos by pioneering new technologies and approaches to space science. LASP is the only academic research institute in the world to have sent instruments to every planet in our solar system. LASP began celebrating its 75th anniversary in April 2023.

Recent News: