The United Arab Emirates hopes to set up a community on the planet were fruit, vegetables and palm trees can grow.
A Middle East space agency formed just three years ago has announced ambitious plans to send a probe to Mars — and eventually colonise the planet. The United Arab Emirates even unveiled proposals to grow fruit, veg and palm trees for the new Martian community 34 million miles from earth as the “soil is like the desert”.
Boffins at the Dubai Airshow revealed the probe – built with the help of Mitsubishi – would leave Japan in 2020 at the start of the nine month project that has already cost £4 billion.
It will orbit the red planet and then touch down to assess atmospheric conditions and hunting water which could support strawberry, lettuce and tomato crops.
Agency bosses who started in 2013 want the first ever Arab-Islamic mission sending back data in time for the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UAE. The aim is to invade and build Mars Science City within the next 100 years.
Strategic planner Rashis Al Zaadi explained: “There are similarities between Mars and the desert. The landscape of the UAE, the soil, are similar. “When we get there, we’ll have to eat.”
Project manager Omran Sharaf added: “It’s about creating a post-oil, knowledge-based, creative economy. It is important we become a well established scientific centre.”
Agency chief Mohammed Al Ahbabi rued: “This region, 600 or 700 years ago was the base of astronomy. Two-thirds of the stars that we can see with our naked eyes have Arabic or Islamic names. “Unfortunately there was decline, but now through this big project we want to send a message.”