With the successful launch of Rashid Rover, the first lunar rover in the Arab world, the UAE has created history. The lander used in the UAE-Japan mission is dubbed Hakuto-R and was made by the Japanese company ispace. Before touching down at the Atlas crater on the Moon’s nearside, the spacecraft will travel nearly four months to get there. The 10-kg Rashid rover with four wheels will then be released gently to investigate the lunar surface.
Table of Contents
- First Signal from Rashid Rover
- Rashid Rover’s Health Check
- Image of Earth Captured by the Lander
- Smooth Launch of Rashid Rover
- Announcement of the Launch
- How many times the launch was delayed?
- Low-energy Route to the Moon
- When and Where will the Lander Touch Down?
- Duration of Lunar Rover’s Mission
- Who Built the Rashid Rover?
- What will Rashid Rover Do on the Moon?
First Signal from Rashid Rover
On Wednesday, the UAE’s Rashid rover sent its first signal to the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC). Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced, “From a distance of 440,000km from the surface of the Earth, the explorer Rashid just sent the first message to the space centre in Al Khawaneej. All the devices and systems of the explorer are working properly, and it will begin to enter the orbit of the Moon in preparation for landing during the coming months.”
Rashid Rover’s Health Check
Following the first signal, the health check of the rover was carried out which covered operational status, temperature readings and battery check of subsystems.
Image of Earth Captured by the Lander
MBRSC and ispace also shared an image of Earth captured by the lander.
Smooth Launch of Rashid Rover
On December 11, at precisely 11:38 a.m. (UAE time), the Rashid Rover, which is named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, a former ruler of Dubai, was launched.
The ispace’s Hakuto-R (white rabbit) Mission 1 lander is carrying the rover. This is also the first lunar mission of the Japanese lunar exploration company ispace. A spacecraft that can land on a planet’s surface is called a lander. It has a propulsion and navigation system that enables it to travel across space and land with its payload without incident. Last month, Rashid was integrated into the lander. The mission was successfully launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket owned by Tesla founder Elon Musk’s company.
Just over eight minutes after launch, the rocket’s first stage returned to land at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. About 47 minutes after launch, the top stage of the Falcon 9 successfully launched Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, and six minutes later, a tiny NASA moon probe named Lunar Flashlight was released.
Announcement of the Launch
The launch of the Arab world’s first lunar Rover rashid was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, joined HH to witness the launch of the UAE’s mission to the moon from the control room of MBRSC.
Along with an inspirational statement, the Ruler also shared some images of the launch. He said: “Explorer Rashid is part of an ambitious space programme for the UAE.. that started with Mars.. passing through the moon.. to Venus.. our goal is to transfer knowledge, develop our capabilities, and add a scientific footprint in human history.”
How many times the launch was delayed?
Due to technical difficulties, the rover mission launch was postponed a fourth time earlier this month. The delay in the lunar lander’s launch attempt, according to ispace, allowed SpaceX to do additional pre-flight inspections on the spacecraft.
Low-energy Route to the Moon
Instead of making a straight approach to the Moon, the spacecraft is travelling along a low-energy path. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), Mission 1 would travel to and from deep space “on a sweeping trajectory designed to reduce the amount of fuel the spacecraft needs to carry”.
When and Where will the Lander Touch Down?
The Rashid Rover will travel through space for over four months with the goal of touching down in the Moon’s Atlas Crater on the south-eastern outer edge of the Mare Frigoris or Sea of Cold. The lander is anticipated to reach the Moon by the end of April 2023.
Duration of Lunar Rover’s Mission
The exploratory mission of the Rashid lunar rover is expected to last for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 days on Earth. The crew is also optimistic that the rover will endure the lunar night, which lasts for 14 days and encounters temperatures as low as -183°C.
Who Built the Rashid Rover?
At the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), work on the 10 kgs, four-wheel Rashid Rover started in 2017. Rashid Rover was built solely by an Emirati team. According to the project manager of the Emirates Lunar Mission at the MBRSC, Hamad Al Marzooqi, “the team did a tremendous job in launching the mission and designing it.”
What will Rashid Rover Do on the Moon?
According to the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, this is a scientific mission. The rover will investigate the lunar surface, lunar soil characteristics, lunar petrography and geology, dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the photoelectron sheath of the Moon.
One of the biggest difficulties astronauts encounter on the surface of the Moon is lunar dust, often known as regolith. Scientists discovered how lunar dust adhered to spacesuits, causing erosion and operational issues, during the Apollo missions. Space organizations are keen to send people back to the Moon, but the razor-sharp lunar dust particles that attach to almost everything are still a problem.
With an experiment that will test several materials against the regolith, the Rashid rover is developed to tackle this problem. One of these materials is a composite made of graphene that was developed by the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Various test samples would be glued to the rover’s wheels as part of an experiment called the material adhesive experiment.
Moreover, mission control in Dubai anticipates receiving thousands of photographs from the rover.
The Gulf state intends to launch a second rover as early as 2025 and has further plans to send orbiters, rovers, and other missions to the moon.