• The journey into outer space is back high on the international agenda – with the UAE destined to be part of the next chapter

    The need to venture into the unknown is a core human trait. As a species we have flourished by pushing the boundaries of exploration, traveling huge distances across land and sea.

    Now space is the frontier that must be conquered.

    The US, China, and Russia have been at the forefront of space exploration since the idea was even conceived – but soon joining the ranks will be the UAE, which has recently been making strong forays into the field.

    Under the joint efforts of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE Space Agency, the country is well on its way to launching its own space probe –The Emirates Mars Mission – which is being managed in the UAE by a 75-strong all-Emirati team.

    This innovative group will design, manufacture and launch an unmanned device for a scientific voyage in the year 2021 to Mars – the same year as the UAE's 50th National Day.

    "The UAE's purpose is to build Emirati technical and intellectual capabilities in the field of aerospace and space exploration and to enter the space industry and to make use of space technology in a way that enhances the country's development plans," stated His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

    A NEW REALM

    Until the probe returns with more information about Mars, here are 30 fascinating facts about space to blow your mind...

    1
    More money is being spent on space exploration than on discovering what lies in the depths of our oceans

    2
    Space is completely silent as there is no atmosphere there. This means that no sound can be heard as there is no medium to carry its waves

    3
    Light takes around 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth

    4
    The UAE has won the bid to host the International Conference of Space Operations, also known as Space Ops 2022

    5
    Despite Mercury being the closest planet to the Sun, the hottest planet is actually Venus – second from the Sun – with a temperature of 462C

    6
    The first man in space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. His Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961

    7
    The first woman in space was also a Soviet cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, who made the journey on 16 June 1963

    8
    A full NASA space suit costs US $12 million (a little over Dh44 million). 70 per cent of this cost accounts for the backpack and control module

    9
    The UAE is currently working on the Emirates Mars Mission which aims to launch their Hope Spacecraft in July 2020 to reach Mars by 2021

    10
    The UAE also hopes to build the first Mars settlement by 2117

    11
    The sunset on Mars appears blue

    12
    There is no way of knowing how many stars are in space due to its sheer size. In our galaxy, the Milky Way, itself scientists estimate the number to be between 50 - 400 billion, and with billions of galaxies out there, the total number of stars seems uncountable

    13
    The closest black hole, Cygnus X-1, is 8,000 light years away

    14
    According to astronauts, space smells like burnt steak or hot metal or even gunpowder

    15
    On Venus, it takes more time to complete one rotation than it takes to orbit the Sun. Ergo, a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.

    16
    If two same types of metal come into contact in space, they will permanently bond

    17
    You become taller in space – as much as 5cm – as the microgravity straightens out the spine

    18
    The closest galaxy to ours is the Andromeda Galaxy and it and the Milky Way are estimated to collide in 3.75 billion years and will eventually form a giant elliptical galaxy

    19
    In outer space, all free-moving liquid forms into a sphere or sphere-like objects, even tears

    20
    It's not possible to walk on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune as they don't have a solid surface

    21
    Coffee is a necessity for many, but conventional coffee machines are a recipe for disaster in microgravity. A new coffee machine had to be specially made for orbiting astronauts

    22
    99 per cent of our solar system's mass is the Sun

    23
    With bodies being practically weightless in space, astronauts work out two hours a day to keep up their muscle and bone density to be strong enough when they return to Earth

    24
    There are only two space stations currently in orbit – the International Space Station and China's Tiangong-1

    25
    The ISS is the single most expensive object ever built, with its cost estimated to be over US $160 billion (Dh440.7 billion) and rising

    26
    Among many other training programmes, astronauts must also undergo a toilet training one as conventional 'going' methods don't work in microgravity

    27
    Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain on Earth at 8,848m, but the tallest in our solar system is Mars' Olympus Mons which peaks at 21,287m

    28
    Jupiter is not only the fastest rotating planet – a day is 9 hours and 55 minutes – but it is also the largest

    29
    There are currently six people in space

    30
    The moon is drifting away from the Earth. Every year, it moves approximately 4cm away from us and because of this, the Earth is slowing down. Every century, the Earth's rotation will be 2 milliseconds slower, meaning that a century from now, the day will be 2 milliseconds longer