Dubai: Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first Arab interplanetary mission, is calling on UAE students with skills in science, engineering, technology and maths to design and code robots that can successfully carry out complex reconnaissance missions on Mars.
EMM announced on Monday that it has partnered with Dubai Airshow 2021 to carry out ‘Planet X’ – a nationwide competition designed to inspire a new generation of talent to build careers in the fast-growing global space and aviation industries. The two-month contest will require students to build, code and design robots for deep space exploration.
“Empowering youth is an important part our long-term vision to enhance the nation’s global position in all space-related fields and create a new cadre of leaders that can push the boundaries of science and technology,” said Omran Sharaf, EMM-Hope Probe project manager.
Reaching for the stars
Sharaf added: “By building and coding robots to successfully carry out complex reconnaissance missions on Mars, we will demonstrate how exciting and rewarding a career in space science can be. We want to inspire students to reach for the stars and contribute to our nation’s meteoric rise in deep space exploration and I believe our new competition will deliver on this.”
Timothy Hawes, managing director at Tarsus F&E, organisers of Dubai Airshow 2021, added: “Planet X challenge provides students with an opportunity to showcase their skills, learn from the industry’s leading experts, and pave their way towards a career in the space industry.”
How to enter
Planet X challenge kicks off with a pre-qualification round in September, followed by a week of training in October. The main challenge takes place during the Dubai Airshow 2021, running from November 14 to 18 this year.
To join the competition, students must complete a pre-qualification challenge which is open to all high school and university students in the UAE. Applicants are required to design an aircraft capable of carrying out missions on Mars. They must also answer technical details about how it would work in practice, as well as compete in a live coding challenge that will take place in September. For more information and to participate, they can email to email@example.com.
The top 40 qualifiers will be invited to receive rigorous training and mentorship from engineers and technologists. They will learn how to build, design and develop state-of-the-art robots and 3D-printed aircrafts alongside the team that successfully sent the Hope Probe to Mars.
Participants will then have to complete a number of complex challenges, including building an unnamed ground vehicle to study the surface of Planet X and seek out a specific location to collect samples using Lego Mindstorms EV3, a third-generation robotics kit.
The second challenge will involve designing an unmanned aerial vehicle to glide above the Martian planet for reconnaissance missions. Students will be required to use CAD (computer-aided design) Fusion 360 modelling software to design and 3D print the aircraft, as well as share a technical presentation on its design.
Up to Dh50,000 is available for the winning team. There will be different programming complexities for high-school and university students. All robots will have to feature built-in sensors and actuators. Student teams will also have five minutes to complete a simulated mission without any support or assistance.