UAE-built Rashid Rover remains in perfect shape as it cruises in space towards the Moon. It’s right on track for its epic mission that will make the Emirates the fourth country to land on the lunar surface, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced on Friday. It has so far travelled a whopping 1.34 million kilometres — that’s equivalent to driving your car and circumnavigating the world 33.5 times.
By January 20, it is expected to reach its farthest point of approximately 1.4 million kilometres from Earth.
The Emirates Lunar Mission team on Earth is keeping a close watch on the health of the Rashid Rover, including its subsystems and instruments.
Since its historic launch on December 11, 2022, the team has completed 220 minutes of communication with the world’s most compact rover. The team has completed all scheduled health assessments and maintenance checks, as it powered Rashid Rover for 10 minutes daily during the first two weeks.
During the ongoing four-month cruise phase, the team will communicate with the Rashid Rover for another 150 minutes. Now, they are sending pings to the spacecraft once a week.
The ELM team also noted that the Rashid Rover’s subsystems had been activated 17 times since the launch. The subsystems were powered on for one hour the first time, followed by 10 minutes of daily activation over the subsequent two weeks. Currently, the rover’s subsystems are being powered on once a week for 10 minutes.
Gearing up for landing
The team is now preparing for the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) phase and surface operations.
As part of the current cruise phase, the team will conduct 12 simulated mission rehearsals organised at the MBRSC ground station for surface operations before the rover’s lunar landing in end-April.
The rehearsals will allow the engineering team to prepare their programmes for execution post the lunar landing while enabling different subsystem teams to sync their work.
During its mission, the Rashid Rover will conduct numerous scientific tests on the surface of the Moon that will contribute to making qualitative developments in the fields of science, communication technologies, and robotics.
The impact of these developments will extend beyond the space sector and into various vital sectors in the national and global economy.
The mission is 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.