Planetary Radio • Nov 03, 2021

Sarah Al Amiri and the new UAE mission to the asteroid belt

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On This Episode

Sarah al amiri

Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri

UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chair of the UAE Space Agency

Headshot 2020

Kate Howells

Public Education Specialist for The Planetary Society

Bruce betts portrait hq library

Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Mat Kaplan

Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society

The chair of the United Arab Emirates space agency returns with news of an ambitious mission to explore seven asteroids. Sarah also shares the latest science from the Emirates Mars Mission Hope orbiter. The Planetary Society’s Kate Howells invites you to vote for the best space images and more from 2021. And we’ve got two space trivia contest winners to announce in the new What’s Up with Bruce Betts.

Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri
Her Excellency Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chair of the UAE Space Agency.
UAE Space Agency's Mission to the Asteroid Belt
UAE Space Agency's Mission to the Asteroid Belt The United Arab Emirates Space Agency's mission to the asteroid belt will launch in 2028 and land on an asteroid in 2033. This artist's impression of the spacecraft analyzing an asteroid is screen-captured from a mission announcement video.Image: UAE Space Agency
Hope over Mars (illustration)
Hope over Mars (illustration) Artist's concept of the Emirates Mars Mission Hope probe.Image: UAE Space Agency
Discrete aurora on Mars
Discrete aurora on Mars Three images captured by the Emirates Mars Mission Hope spacecraft of auroras above the Red Planet.Image: UAE Space Agency

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Trivia Contest

This Week’s Question:

Who was the first chimpanzee to orbit Earth?

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A very cool bluShift Aerospace coffee mug, Stardust 1.0 mission patch and a company patch.

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, November 10 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Who was the first person to fly a second orbital mission in space?


The winner will be revealed next week.

Question from the Oct. 6, 2021 space trivia contest:

What major political event happened in the USSR while the Voskhod 1 mission was in space?


The major political event that happened in the USSR while the Voskhod 1 mission was in space was the ouster of Nikita Khrushchev.

Question from the Oct. 13, 2021 space trivia contest:

What two objects that will be visited by Lucy are named after real people?


The two objects named after real people that the Lucy spacecraft will visit are asteroid 52246 Donaldjohansan, named after the discoverer of the hominid remains he dubbed “Lucy,” and small satellite asteroid Queta, named after Norma Enrequeta Basilio Sotelo, the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron.


Mat Kaplan: Her Excellency, Sarah Al Amiri, and the UAE's exciting new mission to the asteroid belt this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome, I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society back from vacation with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. Sarah last visited Planetary Radio after the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission that is now orbiting the Red Planet with hopes for Hope fulfilled. The United Arab Emirates are taking on an even more ambitious mission. Sarah who now leads the UAE Space Agency will tell us about it and provide an update on the science underway above Mars. Got the perfect gift in mind for the space geek in your life? Share it with us please. And while you're at it, help the Planetary Society determine the best of all things space in 2021. My colleague Kate Howells will arrive shortly to tell you how, of course, Bruce Betts will also be here with winners of two space trivia contests, and a couple of great random space facts.

Mat Kaplan: Scary kitties, that's the Halloween inspired image of Jupiter's great red spot, that tops the October 29 edition of our free newsletter the downlink. Think that's scary? Imagine living on a world that circles a black hole or a neutron star as that object vacuums matter from another star. Yeah, it's another exoplanet discovery, but this one stands out for yet another reason it is 28 million light years away in the Whirlpool Galaxy. There's an artist's impression at We've also got the announcement by Blue Origin, Sierra Space and other partners of their plan to build a commercial space station. They want to call it Orbital Reef. By the way, is this week's episode is published SpaceX and NASA have further delayed the launch of four astronauts to the international space station. It's due to what's called a minor health problems suffered by one of the crew. Kate Howells is the Planetary Society's communication strategy and Canadian Space Policy advisor. She talked with me a few hours ago from her home near Toronto. Kate, welcome back to the show. Good to have you on.

Kate Howells: Thank you, Mat. Always a pleasure.

Mat Kaplan: We have a couple of things to talk about. Both of them ways for people out there listening to us to help out other space fans in this, well, I guess it's getting to be the holiday season. Let's talk with one that I hope is becoming a tradition from the Planetary Society. What do you call this?

Kate Howells: This is the second annual explorer's choice awards from the Planetary Society. So we started this last year and we loved it so much. It went so well that we're going to do it every year where we look back over the past year in space science and exploration and get people to vote for their favorite things. So it's kind of like the Readers' Choice Awards that a lot of local newspapers will do where people vote for their favorite restaurant and hairdresser and whatnot, but it's the space version. So folks can vote for their favorite image from the Solar System from the past year, their favorite moment, most exciting moment in planetary science, favorite mission. And at the end of it all, we get to see who the winners are, which is always very exciting. Whether you agree with the choices or not.

Mat Kaplan: Everybody loves a good competition. And of course, just to be nominated is honor enough as they say at the Academy Awards. This is really cool. I'm looking at it right now. Tell us how people can find this. And then we'll repeat that again before the end of our conversation.

Kate Howells: Yes. So if you go to of 2021, you will find this year's contenders. And of course we had to make some editorial decisions in what we put out there because we couldn't really have every single image from the Solar System or every single moment in exploration. But we have some really good contenders that I think sum up the most exciting things that happened this past year. And it was quite a year. We've got some really good stuff out here. So I definitely encourage everybody to check it out. We even added the category of best space meme because Sarah, our wonderful digital community manager who runs our social media channels has created some memes taking familiar formats and making them about space exploration. And we just think those are so delightful. So folks can pick their favorite of that as well.

Mat Kaplan: She is so good at that. And I'm looking at these terrific candidate images for best solar system image there, eight of them, I don't want to prejudice or bias anybody, but I think I would vote for the shadow of ingenuity over the surface of Mars, but you don't have to do that just because I'm your host. No, these are all great. They're really fantastic choices. As people begin to hear this program, this has only been open. I think it's the third day of voting. What has the response been so far?

Kate Howells: We have already had hundreds of people cast their votes, which is just wonderful to see, I think within about three or four hours of launching the voting page and sharing it by email and on our social media pages. And we already had almost 600 votes and that was a day ago now. So who knows? I haven't seen the latest tally, but it's in the hundreds, which is fantastic, but that's not to say that every vote doesn't count. So people should definitely check it out and make their voice heard.

Mat Kaplan: Absolutely. There are plenty to choose from here, get your ballots in now. Okay. You can vote. And then you can move on to, what do you give that space fan that space geek in your life as the holidays approach? And that's the other thing that you've been working on. Tell us about the gift guide.

Kate Howells: So this is another longer standing tradition of the Planetary Society that around the end of November, beginning of December, we try to put out a gift guide of space themed gift. These are things that if you are the space fan in your community or in your family, you can ask people to give you these things. Or if you have folks in your life who loves space, as much as you do, you can give to them. Or perhaps you have people who you want to love space as much as you do. So these can be things to encourage people in your life to get a little bit more interested in the cosmos. The way that we compile the gift guide every year changes. So in the past, we've reached out to scientists and engineers in the space community and asked them for their favorite gift ideas.

Kate Howells: In the past we've also had Planetary Society staff contribute our own ideas, this year we're opening it up, the widest we've ever had it. So asking anybody, our members, our audiences. So Planetary Radio listeners, social media followers, anyone who is in our community is welcome to share their ideas for things that they think should be added to our gift guide. So it's a very broad call for ideas. Ideally, we're looking for things that people can buy online so that it's very accessible to people, but in general, any idea that somebody has is welcome and we'll be curating the best of the best and releasing the gift guide in just a few weeks.

Mat Kaplan: I am about to submit my choices for this year. One of them's pretty expensive I can tell you it's Andrew Chaikin to this fantastic edition of his classic A Man on the Moon, his classic book I should say that a two volume set that we talked about with Andy not too long ago on Planetary Radio, but that's a definitely a high end gift. I got to come up with a low end one as well, but I'll get my submissions in. How can other people access this? It's really a Google form and they'll let us know what they suggest.

Kate Howells: Yeah. So if you want to contribute your ideas, you can go to So that's our URL, shortener Planet Lead, And anytime in the next couple of weeks, you can submit your idea if it makes the cut, you'll see it in our gift guide that is coming out November 22nd.

Mat Kaplan: Okay. Not too long to wait and give us that URL once again, where people can vote for the best of 2021 from the Planetary Society.

Kate Howells: That is of 2021. And then for the gift guide again, So we want to hear from you, we want to hear your favorites, whether they're space images, or space swag.

Mat Kaplan: Both great. Thank you, Kate. That was a great introduction to these. Get them while they're hot folks. That's Kate Howells, my colleague at the Planetary Society. Thanks again, Kate.

Kate Howells: Thanks, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Her Excellent, Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri is the United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Advanced Technology. She is also now chairwoman of that nations space agency, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center. Also chairwoman of the Emirates Scientists Council and chairwoman of the UAE Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and chairwoman of the Dubai Future Academy Board of Trustees. So it may not be surprising that this aerospace engineer and computer scientist was named a 2020 Laureate in the BBC's 100 Women Series or that she was named by Time Magazine as a 2021 Time100 Next honorees.

Mat Kaplan: And I wasn't surprised when she was part of the announcement made on October 5th of a mission that will explore seven asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. She joined me a few days ago from the UAE. Sarah, welcome back to Planetary Radio. It is a great honor to have you back with us on our show to talk about something very, very ambitious. My goodness. It has been less than a year and a half since the Emirates Mars Mission. The Hope probe was launched. I wonder if you caught some people by surprise by the announcement of this even more ambitious new mission when it was made less than a month ago.

Sarah Al Amiri: I hope we didn't think it was a natural continuation on our exploration mission and on our advent to develop our science technology sector overall with the focus on space.

Mat Kaplan: Is there a name for this new mission to the main asteroid belt?

Sarah Al Amiri: Not at the moment we're calling it, the mission to the asteroid belt as we move forward and get a better understanding of the mission concept, the science that we'll be doing, the objectives I believe a name will come to fruition from there.

Mat Kaplan: I'm sure it will. Here's a portion of what you said when this new mission was announced as we speak still less than a month ago. This requires leaps in imagination, in faith and the pursuit of goals that go beyond prudent or methodical. That implies that this mission will be quite a bit more of a challenge than putting Hope in orbit around Mars. Is that how you see it?

Sarah Al Amiri: Yes. It was naturally selected from several missions that were in the concept phase because of the challenge that it poses. It uses enough of our knowledge from the Emirates Mars Mission while still putting us in a good, uncomfortable place to develop more capabilities. And the science is quite challenging. The scientific mission is five years. We're technically roaming around the Solar System, to be able to fly by the seven asteroids. There's a nice gravity SIS by Venus where we'll be doing some observations there. So overall it was this nice sweet spot for challenges versus scientific impact, versus technological advancement.

Mat Kaplan: Won't you also be doing a flyby of earth, a little gravity assist at our home world as well?

Sarah Al Amiri: Yes, absolutely. So that will be the second flyby that we're going by. And it was very interesting for us to go from going on a direct line from Earth to Mars, to going from Earth to Venus. I think back to Earth again to the asteroid belt a few times over visiting seven asteroid. We're really excited now as we're working on the science objectives to learn more about the wonders of the asteroids in our Solar System.

Mat Kaplan: And we have a lot to learn, our audience heard us recently talking with the leaders of the Lucy mission, which is on it's way to explore those asteroids that share Jupiter's orbit the so-called Trojan asteroids, but I don't think that there has been a mission yet that is going to visit seven, count them seven main belt asteroids all with one spacecraft that really is ambitious.

Sarah Al Amiri: That is ambitious, but it's very important to understand asteroids more closely and the asteroid belt more closely, not only to get a better understanding of the formation of planets within our Solar System, but to also better understand the role that the asteroid belt will play in the future of exploration.

Mat Kaplan: We talk a lot on the show about how asteroids may be able to tell us more about the origin, about how we came to be in this Solar System. And it looks like that is very much one of your goals.

Sarah Al Amiri: Absolutely. And we're delving now into the details considering when we're launching in 2028, it's a right time that will allow us to be complimentary to the Lucy mission complimentary to other missions that are going to different asteroids. We're building our requirements around that to ensure that we are meeting a sweet spot when it comes to data, very similar to the approach that we took on the Emirates Mars Mission.

Mat Kaplan: I recognize that this is still in the very early days of this, this mission. When do you think we may know more about your science goals and about the instruments that this new spacecraft will carry?

Sarah Al Amiri: Considering the pace that we're going through at the moment, the first half of next year is looking very promising for us to get a better understanding of the science objectives and also the instrumentation that will be on board and a potential for having also technology demonstrators onboard the spacecraft.

Mat Kaplan: You see, as you said, you're planning a 2028 launch. With everything that this probe is going to do. Those two flybys, Venus and Earth seven asteroids. I find it kind of amazing that you're going to be able to accomplish all this in just five years. The Solar System is a big place. It's a fast spacecraft, or these asteroids reasonably close together. How does this work?

Sarah Al Amiri: They're not per se closer to each other, but in terms of the time that we're launching, utilizing Venus, selecting the right asteroids in terms of the speed by which they're traveling relative to the spacecraft, we're able to manage this, the design of it to be within the five years timeline, five years timeframe. It's really interesting now to start placing together, which asteroids we're going to exactly together with the spacecraft's performance, together with fitting it into the timeline on this is work that's currently undergoing between our missions designers, our science team, and our spacecraft designers. It's looking feasible as it did when we were doing the peaceable tee up this mission. And now that we have a better understanding of what we want to do, it's still looking feasible within the five-year timeframe.

Mat Kaplan: We haven't yet talked about the thrilling finish that you have planned for this mission. Could you do that now?

Sarah Al Amiri: Yes. The seventh asteroid, we will be attending a landing on it. We are looking at different mechanisms to land on asteroids and one of the underlying aspects. And you mentioned that the asteroid belt remains largely on charted we've studied asteroids from from Earth-based telescopes and also from space-based telescopes with very few missions that have studied, perhaps a few asteroids up close. What you see in the images that comes from telescopes is vastly different from what you're going to see up close to these asteroids. And better understanding how to study those asteroids also lies on how you would develop different landing mechanisms on them considering how difficult it is and how hard it is to build a mission that will go to an asteroid where you might have, for example, boulders lying around and it will affect your mechanism of lending. That's for me is an interesting part of this mission where you're able to demonstrate a form of technology to enable landing on asteroids.

Mat Kaplan: We have learned just in the last couple of years, just how challenging it can be to land on an asteroid, or I imagine that you're very glad to be able to learn from those experiences.

Sarah Al Amiri: Yes. And we've actually looked at those experiences and various other experiences and concepts of landing on asteroids to be able to better determine what is the right mechanism to do it from our end. So we will continue exploration. I don't think we'll be the only mission that will be doing this, but perhaps we can add on to our understanding either it's success or a challenge that comes to be on how to land on asteroid and conduct a scientific observations while doing that.

Mat Kaplan: If you ignore Lucy, which is going to take some time to reach the asteroids, that it will be visiting, it only now just occurred to me that with this single mission, you may be doubling or roughly the number of asteroids that we've actually visited, that we've had a close up look at. And what we've learned so far is that while they may share some characteristics, each of them that we've visited so far has been unique. We seem to have a lot to learn.

Sarah Al Amiri: Absolutely. And re we're really glad we were able to fit the number of asteroids that we did within the mission timeframe within the timeline and budget consideration, and then the technical challenges because it's important to add all into that body of knowledge.

Mat Kaplan: You're going to be partnering once again, I read with those folks at last per the Laboratory for Atmospheric Science and Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I guess that's evidence of how successful this partnership has been so far.

Sarah Al Amiri: Yes, it is. It's an evidence of how successful a U.S., UAE partnership has come to be and an international partnership in space exploration. That's not necessarily your typical agency to agency partnership. We'll continue on this partnership because largely this leverage is quite a lot on knowledge that has been developed from the Emirates Mars Mission, some designs that have been developed on the Emirates Mars Mission. So we're leveraging on the overall EMM team to be able to successfully achieve this mission.

Mat Kaplan: We talked to in July of last year, about how the Emirates Mars Mission would fulfill it's mission of hope, which is largely drove this or that mission. And I'm wondering if you have the same goal for this new mission?

Sarah Al Amiri: We're at a different place as a region, than we were with the Emirates Mars Mission. I believe the region is slightly more stable than it was when we started with the Emirates Mars Mission in late 2013. And there's a better understanding on the role that science technology plays in creating opportunities. Space, and just the arrival of Mars has brought the region together in February of this year. And we're seeing more and more interest from the region, more and more players entering into it, creating those necessary opportunities. So Hope created the necessary impact that it was going to create what this is going to provide for us as a region is a second entry point into the global space sector with a space industry. And this is something that is underlying. This mission is one of the objectives is creating space capabilities within the private sector in the country to be able to feed into the overall region.

Mat Kaplan: That exactly what I was hoping to go to next, which is that you hope that this will stimulate industry in the UAE, which has been largely focused in other areas to look well basically to look toward the heavens.

Sarah Al Amiri: Absolutely. And this is one of the underlying reasons of doing this. We've been able to transfer know-how and capabilities to our existing space sector, but largely that resides within research institutions and agencies. The next step is actually transferring that to create not the spillover economic and social effect only, but also create a direct economic impact. And by that we need to build capabilities and companies allow for startups to be created in the space sector and be able to build a form of a space economy within the country and within the region. And we're using this mission as a mechanism again, to capitalize development of capabilities in the private sector.

Mat Kaplan: There are other elements to the international collaborations that I suppose, this may represent. I noted, and this is not to say that this mission will necessarily do this, but I saw a separate news story that said the UAE is looking at collaboration with India and it's launch vehicles as possible rockets that might carry if not this mission, perhaps others. Is that something that the UAE is actively investigating looking at the capabilities of other nations?

Sarah Al Amiri: So we are looking, it isn't India per se, but we are looking at the capabilities of various countries to be able to have a more connected space sector. We're not going down the path of developing a space sector onto itself and within the country itself, it needs to leverage benefits from the UAE's perspective, but still fits into the global value chain, which means that we need to continue fostering relationships. We have great relationships with Russia for a launch. We have great relationships with Japan as we saw in the back of this mission. We're establishing launch relationships now with the United States through SpaceX and moving forward in terms of the overall agency to agency collaboration, we've seen very good collaboration with France. That enables us to create a very robust multi elements approach to developing our space sector, on this mission and also on future missions, but underlying that, what that creates it creates the necessary demand for the UAE space sector from a global perspective, because you're not able to make a play into a sector that has been around for several decades, unless you're part of it globally.

Mat Kaplan: More of my conversation with Sarah Al Amiri is moments away. Stay with us.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: For missions arriving at Mars to new frontiers in human space flight, 2021 has been an exciting year for space science and exploration. Hi, I'm Sarah, digital community manager for the Planetary Society. What were your favorite moments? You can cast your vote right now at of 2021 and help choose the year's best space images, mission milestones, memes, and more. That's of 2021. Thanks.

Mat Kaplan: Speaking of Japan, if we can move away from this new asteroid mission, and I hope that we'll be able to check back with you and others as the mission comes together. In the coming years, we have a few before it launches reaches that 2028 launch date. There are a couple of others that I was hoping to ask you about. We had not talked about in our previous conversations about a lunar rover, which is going to be launching much, much sooner. Can you tell us a little bit about Rashid?

Sarah Al Amiri: So Rashid will be flying on the ice space lunar vehicle that will take it to the surface of the moon. That's a private sector endeavor happening out of Japan. That's going to push, I think that the ice space concept is going to push accessibility to space quite differently if it's successful next year, and honest maiden voyage to the moon surface. Russian rover is a technology demonstrator that will fly on that lunar Lander and hopefully provide a new venue for entrance to be part of this space exploration play. So hats off to ice space for creating such a venue to be able to enable technology demonstration.

Mat Kaplan: And I should have said, I know that this particular mission is not one that you are as directly involved with, but if we turn now to Hope the Emirates Mars Mission, I think I counted something like seven jobs or assignments or appointments that you have. And one of them continues to be science lead for that mission, which is meeting with such tremendous success at Mars. Can you give us an idea of the current status of the spacecraft and the science that it's doing?

Sarah Al Amiri: So spacecraft is operating nominally around Mars, collecting the necessary scientific data that we require to be able to get a full picture of the weather system of Mars, and also give us a better understanding of atmospheric escape. We've gotten two interesting observations that we will continue to observe that will eventually lead to good scientific findings and bettering our understanding of the atmosphere of Mars. The first is the observations of the discreet auroras, which we actually didn't expect. We and designer our instrument to observe it per se. It wasn't within our science objectives, but we're getting it with our current observation mechanisms. And that's interesting to understand how that evolves throughout a Martian year throughout the seasons of Mars. The second is an observation that our science team thought at the very beginning that it was a glitch in the instrument, and that's a higher than expected levels of oxygen in the upper atmosphere of Mars.

Sarah Al Amiri: And that continues to be interesting because the models don't indicate those levels of oxygen. Of course, that's not a drastic amount. A lot of people ask us, "Can we breathe on Mars?" No Mars is still primarily made up of carbon dioxide. We can not breathe on Mars. It's in comparison minute differences, but it's significant when you look at the actual volume of oxygen, that we theorize to be in the atmosphere. So that's an interesting observation that the sizing continues to look at. Thankfully our instrument was not glitching and just to correct on one aspect due to conflict of interest, I've had to actually step down from my role as science leads because I lead the space agency. So that happened in August last year.

Mat Kaplan: I did not know that I did see someone needs to correct a page on the website because it's still the issue is science lead there. So apologies for that. But obviously still quite interested in the success and the performance of this spacecraft. How is the spacecraft it's itself? Is it healthy? Is it holding up well?

Sarah Al Amiri: The spacecraft is holding up well within the nominal challenges that you would face being around another planet, nothing serious on our end, data's being captured as expected. So that's always good from the larger perspective of things, because we need to collect the full Martian year worth of data. So that's still good in underway. Spacecraft performance overall even looks good. So what I'm looking at is the chance for an extended mission. So spacecraft performance looks good as of now for an extended mission, we're hoping and managing actually the performance of the spacecraft to be able to even extend that beyond the lifetime that it was designed for, which is usually natural for such missions. So it's really exciting times for us, we've put the data out for public release and surprisingly enough, within the first 10 days, two terabytes worth of data was downloaded.

Mat Kaplan: Wow.

Sarah Al Amiri: And it shows a large interest in the data of this mission.

Mat Kaplan: You have once again, beaten me to my next question, which was about that public release of data, which is now open to the scientific community around the world. Congratulations on that discovery of the O2, the oxygen and the upper atmosphere, which does not fit our previous models. It's always great. Certainly a sign of success when emission says, "Wait a minute, that's not how things are. And we have theories have to be revised." That really is exciting stuff as is that stunning image or really three images of those auroras above the Red Planet, which we will put on the episode page at so that people can take a look at those. For the future, I mean, you said, yes, you're continuing the work to understand the Martian atmosphere. Are there specific areas of inquiry within that, that Hope is looking into?

Sarah Al Amiri: So the weather system is going to trigger some interest to the science team as they continue observing the data. I think they've been busy throughout the first few months of this mission to ensure that the data is processed and ready for public release. Now that's settled, they're looking at a particular areas of interest that are popping up from the data because as you've noted, the area of science that we're doing is considered noble science. We have theories about it, but there hasn't been this extensive amount of data collected about it. So let's see what the first publication coming up from the science team will hold for us.

Mat Kaplan: Here's another question that has only just occurred to me. We know that periodically semi-regularly we see these planet wide dust storms on Mars, and while they may not be something to look forward to, if you're a rover, I wonder if a mission like EMM, like Hope you might actually kind of be hoping for that, so that we could maybe gain some understanding of what causes these gigantic storms?

Sarah Al Amiri: We're really hoping for a global dust storm. We're sorry to the rover teams that are out there, but we're very well positioned to fit in vital gaps of knowledge. The last global dust storm actually proved the need for the Emirates Mars Mission and the whole prober on Mars. So we're really hoping fingers crossed that we get a global dust storm on Mars, so we're able to monitor it comprehensively.

Mat Kaplan: Let me turn to a slightly more personal question. I already mentioned that I counted seven jobs or appointments or assignments that you have within all of this work that you do, when do you find time to sleep?

Sarah Al Amiri: Very late at nights, but it's exciting work overall. Working on space, working on science and tech for the country, bringing together policies, transforming, creating things that didn't exist in a country, I think creating opportunities for the longer run is very important personal goal for me. And I don't see it as appointments and jobs. It's just another day.

Mat Kaplan: And generating hope and cause for inspiration. I wonder about how that element of the Hope mission in particular has continued to provide these sources of inspiration, especially for young people in the Middle East and specifically in the UAE.

Sarah Al Amiri: Quite extensively, especially it was very palpable in February when we arrived to Mars and continues to be so in a form of way, this mission has normalized talking about science, technology, exploration, research, things that weren't very well understood just a year ago became normal dialogue that you hear people talking about. Exploration features quite extensively right now, in the words that you see children speaking about their aspirations, they want to be astronauts. They want to be physicists, scientists. Some people want to be spaced chefs and it's created quite a large impact and influence on the overall on an entire generation within the country.

Sarah Al Amiri: A moment for me, that was very interesting and quite heartwarming was when I saw families from several generations speaking about science, talking about what kind of science the Emirates Mars Mission is going to do. It's created quite a large shift that is very hard for me to describe in terms of inspiration and what it's created in terms of impact, but it's somewhat made my job easier in terms of bringing that full understanding of what impact space creates, what impact technology creates, why it's important for the country, why it's important for future.

Mat Kaplan: I also wonder if you think about your own role as a role model, especially for young women in the UAE, because I suspect that you are very much seen that way by many of these young people.

Sarah Al Amiri: I don't think about it. I hope that young people within the UAE have various anchors to be able to create the necessary opportunities that they're passionate about. Growing up, I didn't have that wide of a field of opportunity open. I'm really glad that my children live at a time here in the country where the window of opportunity is far and why that it allows them to create what they're passionate about.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you very much. You have so efficiently answered all of my questions that we actually, I have nothing to add, but I wonder if you have anything that you'd like to say that we may have missed about these ambitious efforts underway and about to getting underway by the UAE?

Sarah Al Amiri: I think your questions have comprehensively covered everything that's happening today. Looking forward to future conversations though, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Absolutely, always. Thank you so much once again.

Sarah Al Amiri: Thank you, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: It's time for What's Up on Planetary Radio. I am here with the chief scientist of the Planetary Society. That's Bruce Betts, did you miss me while I was on vacation?

Bruce Betts: Oh, I missed you so much, Mat. There was a hole in my heart, life wasn't the same. No, seriously you were gone.

Mat Kaplan: Well not so the audience would notice at least, although I did say it during the show. Hey, thank you everybody who sent me such nice vacation wishes, I really was a wonderful, wonderful vacation. And I even snuck a piece of it into my newsletter. If you want to check that out, I opened with an actual experience watching a little chipmunk run along the edge of a forest from the home that we stayed in with relatives in Cape Cod and relating that to cosmic life. That was-

Bruce Betts: Oh, okay. I was sorry. I thought you were just tripping on chipmunks.

Mat Kaplan: Well, you could do that too.

Bruce Betts: Is this your small mammal newsletter or the surely it's not the Planetary Radio newsletter.

Mat Kaplan: No, no, man. You gave it away. The small mammal, a newsletter doesn't premiere until next month.

Bruce Betts: Sign me up and my dog.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, I'll do that. He's not a small mammal though. I've seen your dog and what's going on in the night sky?

Bruce Betts: Sorry everyone, we have some catching up to do, we should do it offline. Night sky evening. I don't know whether on your vacation or otherwise. You've noticed Mat, but Venus stupid bright-

Mat Kaplan: Yeah.

Bruce Betts: ... over in the west and the early evening. Very cool. And what's exciting is we've got the other bright object, Jupiter as well as it's friend to the lower-right Saturn. Remember they used to be in the technically the other part of the sky? Well, now they'll be getting closer and closer over the next month or so to Venus in this nice planet lineup. So go from Venus, look to the upper left, you'll see Saturn looking dimmer and yellowish and then bright Jupiter. And they're just going to get closer and it's going to be cool, but we don't order yet. I've also lined up a Crescent Moon to go hang out with Venus on the 7th of November and with Jupiter on the 11th, Saturn in between.

Bruce Betts: If you don't like your planet viewing to be easy, then look in the pre-dawn and the pre-dawn ease, do you have a challenge? We'll need a very low view to the horizon, but Mercury is there and Mars starting to make it to it's approach in the pre-dawn sky. They'll actually be very close to each other on the 10th, but very low to the horizon in the Eastern direction. That's my exciting planet news for you, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: Venus was a constant friend over our vacation and it's still up there. It just keeps hanging on.

Bruce Betts: Yeah, weird. So anyway, we move on to this week in space history, it was a 2013 that the India's Mars Orbiter Mission launched MOM, produced some beautiful pictures and other data from Mars. Now we move on to [inaudible 00:38:24] neutron stars, Mat, they're weird. They're small, despite having one point solar masses in each one, they're only about 10 kilometers in diameter, which means I know you were wondering this. You could fit over 250 million neutron stars inside the volume of the Earth.

Mat Kaplan: Wow.

Bruce Betts: Ignoring what would happen if you did that. But yeah, it's weird. There are weird things.

Mat Kaplan: I'm not going to remember the exact equivalent, but I know it's like I read somewhere it's like one teaspoon full of a neutron star material would weigh, I don't know how much it was. It's mind boggling as well.

Bruce Betts: Well, the standard random space fact that I'm sure I used years ago, which is why I didn't do it is that a teaspoon of neutron star weighs about the same as all of humanity.

Mat Kaplan: There you go.

Bruce Betts: This squished us all into a teaspoon, al bonus random space fact.

Mat Kaplan: Bonus RSF. And I am so glad to hear it. It said now I know I'm back home.

Bruce Betts: Oh, welcome. Okay. We move on to the trivia contest. We have two, two, not one but two trivia contests. So you answer for you. And the first one I asked you what major political event in the USSR happened during the 24 hour long Voskhod 1 Mission. What happened, Mat?

Mat Kaplan: Well, I'll tell you what happened. We got a huge response that I don't know why. I just a lot of fans of the Soviet Union out there, I guess the former Soviet Union. And this question was posed in our October 6th, program. And here is the answer hidden in the verse from Dave Fairchild. Our poet Laureate in Kansas, the Voskhod spacecraft went to space in 1964. It had three sightless cosmonauts, all rather cramped on board. The only gone a day in change when they came back, they found that Khrushchev had been eased aside by Brezhnev on the ground. Nikita Khrushchev, bye.

Bruce Betts: Yeah. Brezhnev took over during that 24 hours. And as people may have mentioned, I guess his first public event as leader was welcoming the cosmonauts back.

Mat Kaplan: Fascinating. You got to wonder what was going through those astronauts up mines when this happened, we heard from several other people that it was later that a crew on the Mir space station went up, left the Soviet Union and came back to the Russian Republic. Even bigger change, I guess. Here's a big change. Kay Gilbert, who's been listening for a long, long time from Southern California. I believe this is her first time win, congratulations Kay. She said, yeah. It was Khrushchev who got knocked out a power by Leonid Brezhnev with some help from Alexia Kosygin I believe. It's okay, we're going to send you that rubber asteroid. I can do better. I'm at a practice rubber asteroid, kick-ass steroid-

Bruce Betts: There you go.

Mat Kaplan: ... from the planetary society. I got more good stuff for this one. Another little poem. This one from Stephanie [Luksono 00:41:41] from Nevada while Voskhod 1 was up in a way on October 12th, the fateful day, a devious plan was underway with Nikita Khrushchev on a vacay. He had no idea so full of naivete, but back in Moscow members voted yay for his removal from office straight away. It was clever, I like it. As John Mark Bernard in Switzerland, you have to know a little bit of history for this one. He said the other shoe dropped on the shoe banger. And then from Kent Murley in Washington a landed storm arrived a month early.

Mat Kaplan: Finally this for this one from Edwin King who, ah, this is fascinating. I didn't check it out, but I trust you Edwin in the UK who says that another more minor thing that happened was the death of the marshal of the Soviet Union and Chief of the General Staff Sergei Biriuzov I think was killed in a plane crash on the 19th of October, 1964. Here's the point of all this, the plane that crashed was the same one that had brought the cosmonauts to Baikonur pretty scary stuff. He adds by the way. Edwin does what I love about these questions is that they invariably lead to something new and interesting. Thanks Bruce.

Bruce Betts: Oh, you're welcome. That's good to hear.

Mat Kaplan: We're ready for the next one. This was the question that you asked on October 13 in that episode.

Bruce Betts: Yes, indeed. You do. And I asked her about a mission that when we recorded hadn't launched yet, but now has launched the Lucy mission, mostly asteroids to be visited by Lucy or Trojan asteroids named after characters in Homer's Iliad. And I asked you, but what two objects to be visited by Lucy are named after real people? Tell us, Mat, I hope you do.

Mat Kaplan: Well, I won't, but Gene Lewin another one of our regular poetic contributors. He's up in Washington. Here's the answer from Gene. When Lucy goes out for her stroll, she'll circle back to say, hello using Earth to assist her trip, but she's always on the go dropping by Johansen's crib, sort of a dress rehearsal. Then off to Jupiter's Trojan friends, a mythological dispersal. Then past Eurybates satellite Queta is it's name honoring Enriqueta Basilio who lit the 68th Olympic flame. Did you get that right?

Bruce Betts: Yes, indeed he did. Indeed he did. And did he do, nevermind. Yes. We have a Donaldjohnason named after the person who discovered the Lucy fossil in Ethiopia and Queta a nickname for, as you just said, track runner from Mexico that lit the cauldron in 1968, becoming the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron.

Mat Kaplan: Lucy, the australopithecine, that of course was largely the inspiration for the name of this mission, as we heard on this show just a few weeks ago. But a lot of people were not able to find Queta.

Bruce Betts: Yeah. That was tricky. That was tricky because it's a moon of another asteroid. So it may not have pop to the forefront as easily.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah. Pretty tiny, apparently one person who did find it, our regular entrant, Daniel Cozart in the UK and Daniel has not won in almost two years. But he did win this time. So congratulations, Daniel, who also, did you get to see the cool little cartoon he sent us? It's a little, almost a post where the adventures of Percy and Jenny, I was very entertained.

Bruce Betts: Yeah, with Martian and rocks. And the name for what, the perception of what they look like. Yes. There were some fairly funny answers.

Mat Kaplan: I think we'll put this image up on the show page if we can. So you'll be able to find the there for this week's episode, the November 3rd episode. Again, congratulations, Daniel. We are also going to send you a Planetary Society, kick asteroid, rubber asteroid. So congratulations to both of our winners today. We're now back on the regular schedule. What do you have for next time?

Bruce Betts: Who was the first chimpanzee to orbit Earth? The first chimpanzee to orbit earth? Go to

Mat Kaplan: Okay. There were supposed to be chimpanzees in the capsule that Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were brought up into space in, in the Road movie.

Bruce Betts: Yeah. Well, want to give away the answer. I mean, I guess that's where people are going to have to dig in to find.

Mat Kaplan: That's still, I saw it as a kid and a lot of the humor is better suited for kids, but I still think of it as incredibly funny. There was an automatic banana feeding machine that goes haywire and it's stuffing bananas and the faces of these two big stars. It was great fun.

Bruce Betts: We should get an automatic banana machine or two.

Mat Kaplan: Oh, man. Yeah. I'd love that, except that I'm allergic to bananas, but I'll watch you try it.

Bruce Betts: I get twice as many.

Mat Kaplan: Oh, I didn't tell you that. You have until November 10th, that'd be Wednesday 8:00 AM, November 10th to get us this answer. And now I have a special prize. I have a shirt that I got while we were passing through Maine from bluShift Aerospace. This is a little rocket company in Maine, on the coast of the State of Maine in what we call New England here, they are building as green rocket, as you probably can find any place. And I was so intrigued by this company that I bought one of their shirts and they have kindly volunteered to donate one to one of you. It's a very clever, sort of a half sleeve shirt that says bluShift Aerospace, fresh Main rockets. That's close to lobster, as most people say. Anyway, that shirt will go to whoever gets it right, and is chosen by this time around.

Bruce Betts: All right, everybody go out there and look up the night sky and think about what you need to do to not slip on a banana peel. Thank you, goodnight.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, but then you'll be denying so much enjoyment to the rest of us. He's Bruce Betts, who brings us great enjoyment each week is the chief scientist of the Planetary Society. When he joins us for What's Up. Planetary Radio is produced by the Planetary Society, Pasadena, California, and is made possible by it's members who are all primates. Stop monkeying around, become one of us. Mark Hilverda and Jason Davis, our associate producers, Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. Ad astra.