UAE’s Rashid Rover, first Arab region’s moon mission, sets landing date target

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The UAE’s lunar rover is scheduled to land on the moon on April 25 at 8:40 p.m. (GMT +4), the Gulf state’s space agency announced on Wednesday.

The Rashid Rover, built by an Emirati team at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), has spent over four months in space since its launch in December 2022.

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The rover is being transported by the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander, which will perform multiple orbital control maneuvers to reach a 100 km circular orbit around the Moon, one hour before initiating the landing sequence, the state-run WAM news agency reported.

“During the landing sequence, the lander will perform a braking burn, firing its main propulsion system to decelerate from orbit. Utilizing a series of pre-set commands, the lander will adjust its altitude and reduce velocity to make a soft landing on the confirmed site of Atlas Crater in the Mare Frigoris,” the report said.

It is currently orbiting the Moon at an altitude of about 100 km at the perilune (periapsis - the points in the orbit that is closest to the center of the moon) and about 2,300 km at the apolune (apoapsis - the points in the orbit farthest to the center), according to the same report.

Alternate landing opportunities are set for April 26, May 1 and May 3.

The rover was sent to space from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Before the landing, the team will prepare by participating in 12 simulated rehearsals at the ground stations.

On the Moon’s surface, the rover will conduct scientific tests that is expected to contribute to qualitative developments in the fields of science, communication technologies, and robotics.

The primary goal of the mission is to study the Moon’s plasma and to provide answers about Moon dust, the lunar surface, mobility on the Moon’s surface, and how different surfaces interact with lunar particles.

The 10-kilogram explorer will also send back images and collect data on lunar soil and dust once it reaches the lunar surface.

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