United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) has organized a scientific trip for the students participating in the Mars Studies project at UAEU to visit the space laboratories of Lulea University of Technology (LTU).
The trip involved visiting different university labs, where UAEU students had the chance to meet with LTU students. The LTU students and their professors showed UAEU students the labs where they design, test and calibrate instruments that will fly to Mars. UAEU students were impressed to see LTU students’ excellent work with the help of their advisors to design and build sophisticated devices that will help in the study of Martian atmosphere and geology.
The six-day visit came following the invitation of Dr. Javier Torres, an expert in Martian atmospheric studies and the leading scientist for the planetary atmospheric studies group at LTU, who visited UAEU last semester to deliver a lecture on Mars and was impressed by the UAEU students’ enthusiasm for learning. The UAEU students’ visit was 70% funded by LTU planetary atmospheric studies group.
Two instruments caught the attention of the UAEU students, the first was a rover, whose engineering was fully developed at LTU and designed to move on the complex Martian land surface with all its rugged terrain and sand dunes. The second was the flagship device HABIT, which has been fully developed at LTU. The UAEU students got the chance to see a replica model of the HABIT device that will fly to Mars on the European Space Agency ExoMARS 2020. The professors and students at LTU explained the science behind the device that includes perchlorate salts to capture atmospheric water vapor and convert it to water. The UAEU students also explored the device components and observed how it works and how it is calibrated and tested.
As part of the visit, UAEU student group attended a series of workshops, presentations and actual exercises, as well as lectures related to Mars atmosphere, geology and potentials for life, where they were introduced to the basics of planetary remote sensing science, and the processing techniques of Martian satellite data. The students were also introduced to JMARS software and the NASA planetary data system where they can access all planetary data free of charge and can download and develop their own research and applications.
Dr. Abdelgadir Abuelgasim, Professor at UAEU Department of Geography and Urban Planning and the trip supervisor, explained that the trip encouraged the students to learn more about space sciences, planets and remote sensing. They gained great knowledge that will help them in their Mars Studies project and during their educational career at the UAEU. They also learned about a different culture, explored a different learning experience and built relationships with international students and experts. He pointed out that a model of HABIT will be brought to Al Ain desert, as it resembles the Martian land surface to work on the experiment of water vapor absorption from the air in the same way that is expected to occur on Mars
Haneen Abu Hleika, a Geology major student, expressed her appreciation to the UAEU National Space Science and Technology Center for giving her the chance to go on this exploratory trip. “It was a rewarding experience; we have been introduced to many space instruments, as well as space programs such as JMARS. We had the chance to work with the LTU team on conducting mars exploration experiments to support 2020 Mars Mission,” added Abu Hleika.
The Engineering student, Bashaier Al Zahmi, explained, "It was the most beautiful scientific trip to one of the most important universities and advanced space research centers. I acted as an ambassador to the UAE, and felt a great responsibility in learning and acquiring professional and technical knowledge. Through the experiments and research we conducted in collaboration with the team in LTU space laboratories, we were able to test and calibrate mars exploration instruments and explore the challenges involved in designing and engineering these devices.”
“The trip has had a great positive impact on my future vision,” stated Moza Amiri, a UAEU Physics student. “I was not really familiar with this specialty, but I am now fully aware of its importance and impact on space sciences. What I have experienced and explored through this invaluable scientific trip has motivated me to go deeper in this field, especially that UAEU provides its students with all the requirements to encourage them to study space sciences, being an area of great importance to the country.”
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