A team of Emirati scientists is already working on another historic project: building a lunar rover. At the same time, the UAE celebrates the success of its Hope probe. The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to send a spacecraft into orbit around Mars last month. The spacecraft will be a regional first, and it will be the tiniest rover ever to land on the moon. China’s Yutu rovers, which weigh 310 pounds (140 kilograms) and made lunar landings in 2013 and 2019, are the lightest to date. The UAE’s, on the other hand, would be less than a tenth of that. With its payload, it will be about 21 inches (54 centimeters) and 3.3 inches (8.5 centimeters) tall, weighing around 22 pounds (10 kilograms). The Emirates Lunar Mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2024, will fly to a part of the moon that has never been visited by a rover. The exact landing site is still unknown, but the desire is to learn more about how lunar dust and rocks differ around the moon.

“If you think about the planet and say you’ve visited ten locations, you can’t claim to know the entire Earth — and the same is true of the moon,” says Sara Al Maeeni, a project scientist at Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center. “We’re hoping to learn more about airless bodies and see new stuff at the new location.” The moon, asteroids, and the planet Mercury are all examples of airless bodies because they lack an atmosphere. Solar radiation, meteoroids, and dust continually alter and weather their surfaces because they lack an atmosphere to cover them. The team plans to analyze the moon’s soil in detail, take temperature readings, observe how lunar dust adheres to various surfaces, and assess the effect of solar radiation.