Students engage in a 'starry' talk with Sultan Al Neyadi on a radio ham call from Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In an enthralling convergence of space and literature, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) successfully held the sixth ham radio interaction featuring UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi from the International Space Station (ISS) at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library (MBRL).

The educational session was held as a part of the interactive ‘A Call from Space’ series organised by MBRSC, the agency behind the UAE Astronaut Programme.

The 6th edition of the engaging 10-part series was attended by Dr. Mohammed Salem Obaid Al Mazrooei, board member, MBRL, Adnan Al Rais, mission manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, MBRSC, along with other attendees, that included more than 100 students and space enthusiasts.

With the ISS in transit over the UAE, the event captivated the enthusiastic audience through their interaction with Al Neyadi. The ham radio is a broad-spectrum communication tool that enables connection between individuals and groups, even reaching remote and space areas.

Al Mazrouei stated: “We are delighted to be hosting this inspiring event at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, as it supports our vision and strategy to promote awareness, knowledge, and ambition towards studying space sciences, among future generations. Hosting this event also aligns with our wise leadership’s vision to enhance the sustainability of the space sector.”

He said it was an excellent opportunity for library patrons and students to communicate and ask questions to astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is currently conducting the longest scientific mission for Arabs in space.

Al Mazrouei continued: “At Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, we are committed to enhance cooperation with public and private entities and organisations through the implementation of joint educational, entertainment, and cultural workshops throughout the year for community members. This comes in line with the vision and aspirations of our wise leadership to lead a comprehensive development renaissance in the next 50 years, and supports our vision to build a lighthouse of knowledge, culture, and creativity, and to promote the knowledge and cultural scene.”

Invigorating and inspirational

Meanwhile, Al Rais said: “The sense of wonder and eagerness students exhibit as they decipher the value of such missions to humanity is not just invigorating but truly inspirational. As we draw closer to the end of Sultan’s mission, these encounters will be treasured memories, igniting a lifelong passion for learning. Our conviction is strong that such initiatives cultivate an intensified interest in STEM fields among the nation’s youth, fostering a vibrant culture of scientific curiosity and innovation, vital for propelling the UAE’s ambitious space endeavours.”

The event unfolded with a glimpse into the works and projects of MBRSC, following a presentation on space stations that provided a vivid image of human endeavours in space, as well as a training session on the workings of ham radio.

The key highlight of the event was the captivating 10-minute live interaction with Al Neyadi. The audience posed a series of questions, including about space’s effect on internal organs, recycling resources on ISS, the process of growing plants in space and hearing sounds in space, among others.

Seeing stars sans clouds

Answering a question on whether astronauts can clearly see stars and planets from the ISS, Al Neyadi answered, “We do see stars, the Moon and planets very clearly. In addition to that, we do not have clouds that obscure our view. But most of these celestial bodies are still far away from us since the ISS is on average just 400km above Earth.”

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme 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 country’s integration on the global stage.