Venus: After the UAE Space Agency’s orbiter Hope entered orbit around the planet Mars last February, the country has already started planning another mission, this time towards the so-called asteroid belt, between the planet’s orbits. red and Jupiter, after making a stop on Venus. The trip was announced by the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, on his Twitter account.
To fulfill the arduous mission that will travel 3.6 billion kilometers in five years, a dedicated spacecraft will take seven years to build. The idea is to build on the success of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), which will remain in Martian orbit until 2023.
If the EMM represented a task five times more complex than previously developed Earth observation satellites, says UAE Space Agency President Sarah Al Amiri, “This mission [to Venus] is about five times more complex than EMM”, concludes the Minister of State for Advanced Technology.
Understanding the asteroid belt
Studying the asteroid belt, rocky bodies left over from the early Solar System, helps to understand its composition before today’s planets formed. This circular region made up of many irregular objects is about 200 million kilometers farther from Earth than Mars.
The big challenge for the spacecraft that will launch towards Venus in 2028 is that it should be both closer and farther from the Sun than the Hope orbiter. Therefore, you will need powerful protection against heat, but also thermal insulation from the cold.
The future space probe will fly to Venus and orbit the planet, then return to Earth to, in a gravity-assisted maneuver, increase its speed to reach the main asteroid belt beyond Mars. After these complex approach maneuvers, the spacecraft will be close to an asteroid in 2030, and will pass another six, landing on the last one, 560 million kilometers from Earth, in 2033.