Abu Dhabi: A high-level UAE Space Agency delegation is taking part in SpaceOps 2018, an international forum for discussing advanced and technical areas of space exploration hosted by the French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) at the Palais du Pharo in Marseille.

SpaceOps 2018, which began on Monday and will continue till Friday, provides an opportunity to promote the exchange of technical and administrative information on various aspects of space operations, such as mission design and management, human systems and operations, ground systems and other key elements of peaceful space exploration and utilisation. Held under the theme of ‘Inspiring Humankind’s Future’, SpaceOps 2018 gathers experts, policymakers and business leaders from around the world to find ways to advance the global space sector.

Leading the UAE’s delegation is Dr Mohammad Al Ahbabi, director-general of the UAE Space Agency, who delivered a speech on the UAE’s ongoing projects, including the Mars Hope Probe, Mars Scientific City, the UAE Astronaut Programme and the space agency’s ambitious long-term mission and vision.

“From communications to financial operations, agriculture to accurate weather forecasting, remote sensing to navigation, outer space and its applications are playing an increasing role in the activities of all nations and their peoples’ daily lives. For this reason and many others, our commitment to the sector extends back decades, well before the establishment of our space agency. For example, the UAE was an early and active member in the development and application of a number of regional and international satellite and radio communication regulatory frameworks,” he said.

Al Ahbabi went on to discuss the importance of the UAE’s mission to Mars, saying: “Scheduled to launch in 2020, the Mars Hope Probe will be the Arab world’s first interplanetary spacecraft to be developed. Once the Probe reaches the red planet and discovers more about its atmosphere, we will be sharing this information with more than 200 scientific institutions and research centres for analysis. By studying the atmosphere of Mars, we will learn why it became dry and learn how to protect our planet from the same happening.”

In 2022, SpaceOps will be held in the Middle East and North Africa region for the first time, with the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre hosting the forum in Dubai, reflecting the international recognition of the region’s growing importance within the global space community.