UAE space center joins NASA’s 180-day study of effects of long-duration missions, possibly to Mars

Dubai: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) announced that it will begin the second analogue study of the UAE Analogue Programme, as part of NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analogue (HERA).

The analog study will encompass 180 days of research work in four phases (45 days each) in which analog crew members will study how they adapt to isolation, confinement and remote conditions on Earth before sending astronauts on missions. long lasting.

The four phases of the second analog study of the UAE Analogue Program will include studies provided by local universities, with the first phase scheduled to begin on January 26, 2024.

The Emirati analogue crew members will begin their participation from the second phase, which is scheduled for May 10, 2024, while the third and fourth phases will begin on August 9, 2024 and November 1, 2024, respectively.

Second UAE analogue study

As part of NASA’s HERA, analog crew members from the United Arab Emirates will be part of the research team at the Johnson Space Center, where they will perform various scientific and maintenance tasks within the HERA habitat.

Replicating space conditions on Earth, HERA is a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analogue for isolation, confinement and remote conditions in exploration scenarios while simulating a trip to Mars. The suite of activities aboard this unique habitat will include trying out augmented reality and monitoring your simulated environment. Analog crew members will also face scenarios such as increased communication delays with their ground control support personnel outside their habitat as they “closer” to Phobos.

These activities help researchers design strategies to help analog team members become more autonomous, work as a team, and communicate effectively to accomplish tasks. With this data, scientists can develop strategies to better prepare astronauts for interplanetary missions and, eventually, trips to Mars, a long-held vision of the UAE under the Mars 2117 Program.

UAE universities join research

• UAE universities are also playing a key role in the second analogue study of the UAE Analogue Program through their various research studies. The United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) focuses on three main areas.

• The first study will investigate glucose metabolism dysfunctions caused during the isolation period, using metabolomics.

Another study aims to detect deficits in brain function due to cognitive fatigue, while the third project will be optical monitoring of cardiovascular vital signs, exploring new methods to assess heart health in isolated settings.

• Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) contributes two critical studies, including evaluation of changes in whole-body energy consumption, energy content, bone density and mass muscle before and during isolation, and another study examining the effects of prolonged exposure to an analog spatial environment on cardiovascular variability and cardio-postural interactions.

• The American University of Sharjah (AUS) is also participating in a major study that will assess mental stress in isolated and confined environments.

• This research is vital to understanding the psychological challenges faced during long-duration space missions and developing strategies to mitigate these stresses.

Deeper understanding

Salem Humaid AlMarri, Director General of the MBRSC, said: “The UAE’s analog program is instrumental in deepening our understanding of the challenges and nuances of long-duration space missions. They are also instrumental in shaping the scientific methodologies and technological innovations needed for future expeditions to the Moon and beyond.

“Under the visionary leadership of the United Arab Emirates, we continue to enhance the capabilities and technologies of the Emirates with the aim of sending our astronauts on long-duration missions. Through the second analogue study of the United Arab Emirates, we are laying a foundation “solid for our nation’s ambitious journey through the cosmos, driven by a commitment to improving human understanding and capability in the realm of space exploration.”

Ambitious vision

Adnan Al Rais, Mars 2117 Program Director, MBRSC, said: “Analog missions provide us with invaluable information about the physical, psychological and technological challenges of long-duration missions. in space travel. As we simulate space conditions here on Earth, we are not only testing human resilience and adaptability, but also refining the technologies and strategies that will be critical to the success of future expeditions to the Red Planet.

“Each discovery and lesson learned from these analog missions also brings us one step closer to realizing the ambitious vision of the Mars 2117 Programme. It is a testament to the UAE’s commitment to being at the forefront of space exploration and contributing significantly to the global understanding of human capabilities in space.”

The first analogue study of the UAE Analogue Programme, which is part of the SIRIUS-21 programme, was successfully concluded in 2022 and focused on understanding the effects of isolation on human psychological and physiological conditions.

The UAE Analog Program is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE National Space Program and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE. and promote the integration of the country on the global stage.


Established in 2006, the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) is an advanced scientific and technological centre, responsible for making the United Arab Emirates a world leader in space exploration and services.

MBRSC began with five engineers, who were responsible for developing their capabilities and expanding their knowledge in the space field, relying on a strong will and solid determination. Since then, the center has continued its journey to become the incubator of the “UAE National Space Programme”.

The MBRSC hosts the UAE Satellite Programme, the UAE Astronaut Programme, the Mars 2117 Programme, and the Emirates Mars Mission, among others. Under its satellite program, the Center has built, developed and operated several Earth observation satellites, including DubaiSat-1, DubaiSat-2 and KhalifaSat, the first satellite built entirely by Emiratis in 2018.

The Center is currently developing MBZ-SAT, which is expected to launch in 2024 and will be the latest in the field of high-resolution imaging from outer space.

Under the UAE Astronaut Programme, the MBRSC currently has four astronauts, two of whom have completed missions to the International Space Station, including the longest Arab space mission in history, recently concluded by Sultan Al Neyadi . The Mars 2117 program includes the Emirates lunar mission, the UAE analog program and Space Ventures.

Under the UAE Astronaut Programme, the MBRSC currently has four astronauts, two of whom have completed missions to the International Space Station, including the longest Arab space mission in history, recently concluded by Sultan Al Neyadi . The Mars 2117 program includes the Emirates lunar mission, the UAE analog program and Space Ventures.

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