Sunday 16, October 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, has announced students and faculty won two of the three awards – the first and the third – for their presentations on space systems and technology at the second annual Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) Science Workshop.

The awards reflect Masdar Institute’s crucial role in developing the human capital through its Master’s Concentration in Space Systems and Technology. Established in collaboration with Al Yahya Satellite Communications Company (YahSat) and Orbital ATK, the program fosters the advanced research areas in space science and technology needed to support the UAE’s national space program and space-related industries with human resources, technical advancements and infrastructure.

Congratulating the role of faculty and students for winning the award and their continuing contributions to the UAE’s space ambitions, Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, said: “These two awards and Masdar Institute’s intense involvement in the Emirates Mars Mission Science Workshop reflects our commitment to the UAE’s space goals. We are keen to continue to play our role in developing the intellectual and human capital needed to achieve the UAE’s scientific and technological goals, particularly in space systems.”

Organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), the event aimed to address the science challenges posed by the Martian atmosphere. The UAE has a goal of sending an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021. The EMM Science Workshop covered various topics about the Red Planet, its history and evolution over millions of years, with the participation and presence of professors from UAE universities, the international scientific community, and students from the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. Former NASA Astronaut Marsha Ivins was the chief guest at the event.

The first prize was awarded to a poster titled ‘Novel UAE Native Microalgae Species to Support Martian Human Habitable Environments’, presented by Masdar Institute’s Ahmed Al Harethi, a Chemical Engineering PhD student. Dr. Ayesha Al Marzouqi Assistant Professor, and Dr Hector Hernandez, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, were co-authors of the winning poster. The aim of this research is to develop biological and sustainable processes to support human living conditions on Mars. This research could provide oxygen for life, support food production for human consumption, transform organic waste into bio-fertilizers and recycling water for reuse on Mars. This is the first type of research at Masdar Institute that addresses the production of a habitable atmosphere on Mars.

The third prize was awarded to Engineering Systems and Management student Abdullah Essa Sharif, along with Mechanical Engineering students Adham Mohammad Aqil Hadi Alkhaja and Manar Almazrouei, who presented a poster titled ‘H2OBOT – A Robotic Mission to Explore Martian Liquid Salty Water and its Possible Use for Future Human Exploration’ for the ‘Explore Mars Poster Competition’ at the event. The three students belong to the Space Systems and Technology Concentration program that is sponsored by YahSat and were mentored by Dr. Prashanth Marpu, Assistant Professor of Water and Environmental Engineering, and Dr. Saif Al Mheiri, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Dr. Daniel Choi, Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) and Materials Science and Engineering, also presented a talk at the event titled ‘The Red Planet’. The presentation covered the planet’s temperature, size, atmosphere, and geologic processes while examining the Mars Environmental Compatibility Assessment (MECA) recently conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The workshop offered a unique opportunity for those interested in space travel to hear expert insights from renowned space and science professionals including Marsha Ivins, a former NASA Astronaut.