Growing date palms and lettuce, UAE’s Mars mission to reach another level

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UAE has literally taken its space plan to another level by adding new objectives to it – growing palm tree and lettuce.

According to a BBC report, the main objective is to create agricultural space – where you can pick your strawberries/grow your fruits. While the date palm was chosen for its symbolic links with the region, the other three produce have been chosen as scientists have already established that they might grow on Mars.

“There are similarities between Mars and the desert. The landscape of the UAE, the soil, are similar,” Rashid al-Zaadi, senior strategic planner at the UAE Space Agency, was quoted as saying by the BBC.

As a result, the UAE has decided to pump money into two research projects – growing date palms, and lettuces, tomatoes, and strawberries on Mars. “Well, when we get there, we’ll have to eat,” al-Zaadi said.

A scientific center

Omran Sharaf, a project manager on the Mars Mission probe, said it is all about creating a post-oil, knowledge-based, creative-based economy. “So it is important we become a well-established scientific center. We have created many engineers, but not many scientists. This Mars project is purely scientific mission,’’ he

A mock-up of the project was released at the ongoing Dubai airshow. To attract international aerospace companies and organizations, and build up relationships, the model was built and displayed at the airshow.

Since the UAE Space Agency was set-up in 2014, the country has invested more than $5.4 billion in its Mars project, said the report.