Why the united arab EMIRATES plans to grow lettuce on Mars

Dubai Media Office

One thing you can’t accuse the United Arab Emirates, for lack of vision.

First, they have unveiled plans to launch a Mars probe. Then, it was the ambition to colonize the Red Planet.

Now, the united arab EMIRATES have a new goal, to grow palm trees and the lettuce.

The space sector is a huge feature of the Dubai airshow, with exhibitions, lectures, and guest speakers that include former Nasa Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden.

But even before a water on Mars probe leaves the field in 2020 from Japan – water is working in partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Gulf state has announced its space farming intentions.

“There are similarities between the March and the desert,” said Rashid Al Zaadi, senior strategic planner in the united arab EMIRATES Space Agency. “The landscape of the WATER, the soil, are similar.”

And so, the united arab EMIRATES have decided to inject money in the two research projects – growth palm trees-date palms, and lettuces, tomatoes and strawberries on Mars.

“Well, when we get there, we’re going to have to eat,” says Mr. Al Zaadi.

Dubai Media Office

The palm tree was chosen for its symbolic ties with the region, the other three because scientists have already established that they could develop on Mars, Mr. Al Zaadi said.

Although this may seem fanciful, it is one of the main underlying economic reason. The united arab EMIRATES, and specifically Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are trying to prime the pump of the economy in preparation for the end of the oil era.

He started with a huge boom in tourism and airlines, and the associated services and engineering that went with them. Now the water is in movement in science and hi-tech sectors.

“There are 100 million young people in the Gulf region,” explains Omran Sharaf, project manager of the Mars Mission probe. “

United arab EMIRATES Space Agency

We want them to play a role in the future and take the region to the next level.” (The UAE’s population is approximately nine million euros, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens).

He adds: “It is to create a post-petroleum, knowledge, creativity-based economy. Therefore, it is important for us to become a science centre. We have created many engineers, but not many scientists. This [Mars] is a purely scientific mission.”

Since the united arab EMIRATES, the Space Agency has been put in place in 2014, the country has invested more than $5.4 billion (£4.1 bn) in its Mars project. That includes the March of the probe, a final full-scale mock-up of what has been unveiled at the airshow.

The survey satellite has been developed with the help of a team deliberately made that the Emirati, the space agency said, and the search for water and assess the atmospheric conditions.

Dubai Media Office

The united arab EMIRATES have also started to work on his March to the City of Sciences, a center devoted to the study of the colonization of the planet. The series of domes in the desert, with two million square feet of living space and research facilities, will investigate the food, water and energy needs.

The Mars mission makes the UAE one of nine countries to study how to get of the planet, Mr. Sharaf said: “This means that our investment in facilities and science teaching, laboratories, universities will have to be very big.”

And, according to the Apollo 15 command module pilot Al Worden, it will also require international cooperation. He is impressed by the ambition of the water project, and what has been achieved so far. But he adds: “the scale of The technological challenge will be too much for a country.”

Dubai Airshow

The goal is to make the space a great feature of the aerospace has been attracting international experts to participate, ” says Yousuf Hamad Al Shaibani, director-general of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre of the Space.

Make the industry such a great features this week of the biennial Dubai airshow was supposed to be “the opportunity to meet with key international aerospace companies and institutions, and to build relations of strategic partnership,” he said.

Even the water, the leaders described what they are trying to do as “an epic challenger”. Assuming that everything progresses as planned, the final step will be a manned landing on Mars in the next 100 years, that is.

It may never happen. But at least, the country has created a new generation of researchers in the Gulf and have learned to grow many more fruits and vegetables in the desert.