Methane Pledge by the ‘Giants Behind the Climate Crisis’ Falls ‘Well Short’


Methane Pledge in the COP28 by the ‘Giants Behind the Climate Crisis’ Falls ‘Well Short’ of What Is Needed as per Human Wrongs Watch of today.  And yet some $500 billion annual stimulus for sustainable development was understood to have been made last year.

.The above image is for illustration and is of Al Khaleej Today


UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday [] sent a strong message to the oil and gas industry: the pledges made at COP28 in Dubai fall well short of what’s needed to meaningfully tackle the climate crisis.

The burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change.
© Unsplash/Patrick Hendry | The burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change.

As the fourth day of this year’s UN climate conference got underway, the UN chief stated: “The fossil fuel industry is finally starting to wake up, but the promises made clearly fall short of what is required.”


Reacting to the pledge announced on Saturday by several major oil and gas companies to reduce methane leaks from their pipelines by 2030, Mr. Guterres said it is a “step in the right direction”, but the promise failed to address a core issue, namely, eliminating emissions from fossil fuel consumption.

Methane (CH4) is a primary component of natural gas and is responsible for about a third of the planetary warming we see today.

It is short-lived but is more powerful than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate change. Without serious action, global anthropogenic methane emissions are projected to rise by up to 13 per cent between now and 2030.

UN agencies tell you here what you need to know about methane.

Dubbing the oil and gas companies, the “giant behind the climate crisis”, the Secretary-General also pointed out that the pledge did not provide clarity on the pathway to reaching net-zero by 2050, which is “absolutely essential to ensure integrity.”

“Science is clear: we need to phase out fossil fuels within a timeframe compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius,” he reiterated, referring to one of the keystone targets set by the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement.

“There must be no room for greenwashing,” he said, referring to the dangers involved in promoting deceptive marketing and false claims of sustainability.

Find out more here about the tactics of ‘greenwashing’.

Early Warning for All

The groundbreaking Early Warnings for All Initiative launched by the Secretary-General last year aims to protect everyone from hazardous weather, water or climate through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027.

“This is an ambitious goal – but it is achievable. To make it a reality, we need all hands-on deck – collaborating and cooperating in a way that has not been done before,” he told delegates at Sunday’s main event on the issue.

Mr. Guterres also launched a new report prepared by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which shows that more lives are being protected from extreme weather and dangerous climate change impacts, but the pace of progress remains insufficient.

So far,101 countries reported having an early warning system, an increase of six countries compared to last year, doubling of coverage since 2015.

Yet, half of countries globally still do not have adequate multi-hazard early warning systems, the report finds.

The head of UNDRR Mami Mizutori said: “The progress is encouraging but we must not be complacent … with an 80 per cent increase in the number of people affected by disasters since 2015 and half the world still lacking access to early warnings.”

“Early warnings are the low-hanging fruit of climate adaptation. They are not a luxury but a must,” added WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.


Basic tool to save lives

The UN chief said Early Warnings for All systems are “the most basic tool for saving lives and securing livelihoods” in a world defined by “escalating climate injustices”.

Worryingly, countries that are vulnerable to extreme weather, especially small island developing States and least developed countries, as well as the entire African continent, have a rate of protection is well below the global average.

“And delayed action leads to more extreme weather events. More deaths. More destruction,” stated the Secretary-General.

Progress so far

Highlighting the progress made over the past year, Mr. Guterres shared examples from several countries:

  • Maldives, Laos and Ethiopia now have dedicated national action plans;
  • Benin has strengthened communications to reach communities at greatest risk; and
  • Fiji’s flash flood warning has been expanded to benefit nearly one million people.

He pointed out that in a world on a fast-track to temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius, climate vulnerability is bound to escalate.

Therefore, it is critical to cut carbon pollution at an accelerated pace and invest in protecting vulnerable communities from the impact of more frequent and severe climate-related events.

The estimated cost of bringing everyone under the protection of early warning systems would be around $3 billion, “a tiny fraction of the hundreds of billions made by the fossil fuel industry last year.”

Mr. Guterres called for a windfall tax on these profits, and for the money to be used to protect those suffering the worst impacts, encouraging countries to be “bold and ambitious and to double the speed and scale of support in 2024”.

Race to net-zero

During a roundtable on the latest report from his High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero, the Secretary-General said COP28 is about turning things around, but national governments cannot do it alone.

“Businesses, financial institutions, civil society, cities, states and regions are all critical in the race to net-zero,” he said.

In simple terms, ‘net-zero’ means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible.

In March 2022, the UN chief established the expert group to develop stronger and clearer standards for pledges by non-State entities and speed up their implementation.

Ten recommendations in its report, as a ‘how-to’ guide for credible, accountable net-zero pledges.

Reminding the room of his ‘Acceleration Agenda,’ Mr. Guterres called on governments and non-State actors to radically speed-up efforts to cut emissions, for which he highlighted five key elements:

  1. Genuine decarbonization effort to cover all activities, across every link of value chains;
  2. Detailed targets for 2025, 2030 and 2035, in line 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement;
  3. Disclosure of all lobbying, policy engagements and communication campaigns;
  4. Information on efforts to change business models and internal operations to phase out fossil fuels; and
  5. Move towards a just, equitable and accelerated renewables transition.


Oil leaves invisible footprint on Gulf’s non-oil economies

Touted progress in diversifying Gulf economies beyond the fossil fuel rent comes with a caveat. Oil and gas revenues indirectly propel large chunks of the non-oil economy through public expenditures such as wages, subsidies and infrastructure spending.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the non-oil segment of Gulf economies to grow 45% faster than the overall gross domestic product (GDP) this year, which includes the oil and gas sector. The figure is in line with the 2000-2019 average trend.

This follows a unique situation in 2022 when the Gulf’s overall gross domestic product expanded 57% faster than the non-oil segment after oil prices surged to their highest levels since 2008 as Western sanctions against Russia threatened to disrupt global oil supply. Even so, the World Bank noted in a May 2023 report that Gulf economies’ “stellar growth” last year “was not just a result of buoyant hydrocarbon prices but also continued growth of non-oil economies.”

“Hopefully by 2030, I wouldn’t care if the oil price is zero”, Saudi Arabia’s finance minister Mohammed Al Jadaan told CNN in 2017. But the prospect of decoupling the Gulf’s overall economy from its main export commodity in the near future has long been exaggerated.

“It is a mixed picture,” said Justin Alexander, director of Khalij Economics, a consulting firm. “Looking at just non-oil GDP figures is misleading.” Parts of the economy, he said, “are basically the result of the recycling of oil revenues through government spending rather than independent value creation.” Since oil revenues still account for about two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s government revenue, the kingdom remains a petrostate.

Oil is sticky 

Across Gulf economies, most economic developments are directly or indirectly driven by government spending, according to Jalal Qanas, an assistant professor in economics at Qatar University. The share of Gulf countries’ GDP from government expenditure has been trending up since the 2007-09 global financial crisis. In 2021, IMF data showed that it ranged from 29% in the UAE to 52% in Kuwait.

The fossil fuel rent’s invisible footprint runs deep into Gulf’s non-oil economy, from grocery shopping, entertainment activities, cab rides, and cars paid with public sector wages to flats bought with subsidized housing loans and wedding ceremonies funded by marriage grants. Alexander called it “complicated interlinkages” between Gulf’s economies and governments. Yet, non-oil economies are the cornerstone of everyday life in the Gulf region, a major source of employment and social interactions.

In Qatar, the government has wound down its public spending frenzy estimated at $300 billion ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022. “Once you turn off the tap, will the private sector survive?” Qanas asked. “We need to wait at least one to two years to see how the country’s private sector will behave with less government spending”

Saudi Arabia launched the $1.3 trillion Shareek initiative in 2021 to push companies to invest domestically, particularly in the non-oil economy. But there is a catch: two of the initiative’s largest contributors are the kingdom’s top fossil fuel giants, national oil company Saudi Aramco and petrochemical firm SABIC.

Also, the private sector has done a poor job so far of converting the Gulf’s fossil fuel rent into economic sectors that can stand on their own. Corporate performance in Gulf economies, although it varies between countries and industries, is deteriorating. Profitability of the median firm in the region plummeted from 15.2% in 2007 to 4.1% in 2021, the IMF found.

Dubai has “set an example” 

A notable exception is Dubai, where oil output peaked in 1991. The emirate’s oil sector slipped from about half of the local economy 50 years ago to only 1% of pre-pandemic GDP as the sheikhdom, one of the seven that form the UAE, built the Gulf’s first post-oil economy. In the third quarter of 2022, wholesale, retail trade, real estate, construction, manufacturing, and financial and insurance activities accounted for 60% of its GDP. The emirate’s push to become a global hub decouples its economy further from the region’s oil boom and bust cycles.

Tourism and real estate insulate Dubai’s economy from the wider Gulf. Seven out of ten tourists who visited Dubai in the first quarter of 2023 did not come from the Middle East, while top non-resident buyers of real estate in Dubai in 2022 were Russian, British, Indian, German, and French citizens.

Dubai may be the first, but it will not be the last Gulf post-oil economy. Omani luxury fragrance brand Amouage sells its perfume in more than 80 countries, Bahrain is a fintech hub for the Middle East, Qatar makes its mark in global sporting events, and Muslim pilgrims from all over the world flock to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca.

“Dubai has set an example for the region, and now Gulf countries are all trying, I would not say to copy, but to learn from what Dubai did,” Qanas said.


Read more on Al-Monitor :





COP28 in the UAE needs to send a clear signal towards ambitious climate action. It requires a phase-out of oil and gas production, new global targets on renewables and fewer distractions from topics like CCS or co-firing old combustion technology with synthetic fuels from renewable sources.

This Climate Action Tracker briefing assesses recent action from national governments to start phasing out oil and gas production and support renewable electricity—or those that are promoting distractions like CCS.

The Climate Action Tracker has found:

  • None of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers have committed to ending new investments in oil and gas production and are instead increasing them.
  • Developed countries must lead the way and set end dates for oil and gas production—only minor producers are doing so.
  • Most governments have failed to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies despite longstanding promises to do so.
  • G7 members continue to support international public finance for fossil gas despite pledging to end new international public finance for fossil fuels in 2022.

To initiate the end of oil and gas production, the CAT has identified four main actions and checked whether national governments are following them:

The current system works for the rich

Oil and gas exploration, production and trade washed record and windfall profits into the pockets of corporations in 2022. The big western oil companies alone paid out USD 110bn in dividends and share repurchases (Reuters, 2023a)— a number higher than the global climate finance target of the Paris Agreement of USD 100bn by 2020, which developed countries have still not met.

Oil and gas majors have dumped their plans to reduce investment in production, increasing it instead. At the same time many developing countries still lack access to clean and affordable energy and around the world, people increasingly suffer from energy poverty, at least in part exacerbated by high fossil fuel prices and lack of finance for renewables.

Major oil and gas producers promote technologies that simply prolong oil and gas production

The CAT also finds that major oil and gas producers promote technologies that simply enable prolonging oil and gas production and distract from the real need to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reduce global production of fossil fuels.

CAT determines that:

  • Carbon capture and storage cannot be a lifeline for oil and gas: The UAE, as the world’s 7th largest oil and 15th largest fossil gas producer, has officially been promoting an “emissions-free” fossil fuel agenda – touting the use of CCS in the energy sector rather than phasing out oil and gas.
  • Co-firing fossil fuels with renewable resources will never be competitive: Several governments are now promoting the use of fuels made from renewable electricity to reduce fossil fuel use in existing infrastructure—with a clear risk they will end up running on fossil fuels.

Electricity generation needs to rapidly transition to zero emissions

To meet sustainable development goals and stay below the Paris Agreement’s temperature limit, electricity generation needs to rapidly transition to zero emissions, primarily through renewable energy.

The CAT finds governments have not taken sufficient action on three important elements:

  • National renewable electricity targets need to be more ambitious, Paris-aligned, inclusive and push implementation.
  • The creation of favourable conditions for increased renewable energy uptake is advancing, but also lagging behind in some countries.
  • Phase-out targets for coal-fired electricity generation and moratoriums on new coal plants are becoming more widespread, but some major players have failed to act.

A more ambitious global renewable energy target is needed

If a global target on renewable expansion is set, it should clearly be a value that is larger than 1 TW added capacity per year on average, starting from today and for coming decades. This will support a full phase-out of fossil fuels in the electricity sector.

Recently, different policy makers and civil society organisations have started to call for a global renewable electricity target. For it to be effective, the global target needs to be ambitious enough to drive rapid change.



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Global economic uncertainty means oil prices will continue to surprise


Global economic uncertainty means oil prices – and your fuel bill – will continue to surprise us all this year.  Let us hear what Carole Nakhle says about it.

The image above is on Oil price uncertainty. Holmes Su/Shutterstock


Global economic uncertainty means oil prices – and your fuel bill – will continue to surprise this year

By Carole Nakhle, University of Surrey

Oil prices have confounded expectations in the first quarter of 2023. Brent – a major global benchmark – hit a low of US$72 (£58) a barrel on March 17, while the world’s other main benchmark, WTI, dropped to less than US$66 a barrel. This is a far cry from the nearly US$114 and US$103 a barrel, respectively, reached on the same day a year before following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil producer.

These unexpectedly low prices remain even as the war in Ukraine continues with no clear end in sight. Other developments have also failed to boost prices as expected. China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, abandoned its zero-COVID policy in December 2022, creating expectations that Chinese oil demand would quickly return with a vengeance, propelling prices higher. A couple of months before this, OPEC+ (the cartel of certain oil-producing nations) had announced a production cut of 2 million barrels a day (mb/d) – roughly 2% of world supply and the largest cut since 2020.

A surprise announcement of 1.1 mb/d of cuts by OPEC+ on April 2 did boost prices. On top of a 0.5 mb/d decrease announced by Russia in February, this has brought the group’s cuts to 1.6 mb/d. And by mid-April Brent reached US$86 and WTI US$83 per barrel.

But oil has now started to retreat again, an unexpected development during a war involving a major oil exporter, and at a time when a giant consumer like China is reopening after three years of economic isolation.

This shows that oil price forecasts continue to be unreliable. The economic outlook and Chinese consumption growth are key to demand expectations, while Russia is the wild card in terms of supply. Until uncertainty around these three factors dissipates, global oil markets will not have a clear direction.

Oil price movements:

US Energy Information Administration, Bloomberg, Author provided

Economic outlook

Oil demand is closely linked to economic growth because a slowing economy shrinks income, leading people to curtail expenditure and travel less, and slowing down manufacturing that uses oil. Various economic forecasts have recently highlighted the major challenges facing the global economy, but widely prevailing uncertainty seems to top the list.

In its April 2023 World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) emphasised a high level of uncertainty “amid financial sector turmoil, high inflation, ongoing effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and three years of COVID”.

The World Bank has also warned that “a lost decade could be in the making for the global economy” as “nearly all the economic forces that powered progress and prosperity over the last three decades are fading”.

April’s OPEC+ Monthly Oil Market Report kept its forecast for economic growth and oil demand largely unchanged from previous reports, but said: “The global economy will continue to navigate through challenges including high inflation, higher interest rates particularly in the Eurozone and the US, and high debt levels in many regions.” It stated that “these uncertainties surrounding current oil market dynamics” were behind its decision to cut production.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud (centre), minister of energy, industry and mineral resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, speaks at an OPEC press conference in Vienna, Austria, October 5 2022. Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE

The China factor

China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer and the second-largest economy after the US. So all eyes have been on its oil demand since the country ended the nearly three-year zero-COVID policy that severely restricted its peoples’ mobility and economic activity.

Today, it is the main bullish factor in many global economic forecasts. The IMF’s managing director recently said:

China this year is going to contribute about one-third of global [economic] growth. We calculated that 1% more growth in China translates into 0.3% more growth for the economies that are connected to China.

The IEA believes China will account for half of the global increase in oil demand this year. Goldman Sachs expects China’s oil demand growth to boost Brent by roughly US$15 per barrel.

However, such enthusiasm is not universally shared. A Citibank report says China’s post-COVID recovery seems slower than expected. Being an export-driven economy, the Asian powerhouse is exposed to the health of the rest of the world. A weakening global economy will reduce demand for Chinese exports, with negative repercussions on its economy and therefore oil demand.

Similarly, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said “the external environment is even more complex, inadequate demand remains prominent and the foundation for economic recovery is not solid yet”. Or, as the Saudi energy minister reportedly said when asked about an oil demand rebound recently: “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Russia: not done yet

As a major oil producer and exporter, Russia also has a massive influence on global oil markets. Despite sanctions since the beginning of the war in Ukraine (and following the annexation of Crimea in 2014), Russia continues to be the world’s third-largest oil producer after the US and Saudi Arabia.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, oil prices spiked due to fears of a loss of Russian supply. The IEA warned the resulting 3 mb/d loss (around one-third of Russia’s total and almost 3% of world production) could produce “the biggest supply crisis in decades”. Analysts from investment bank JP Morgan said Russia could cut up to 5 mb/d of production driving global oil prices to a “stratospheric” US$380 per barrel.

Such gloomy scenarios did not materialise. Russian oil continued to flow but changed direction from Europe to Asia, helping to ease price pressure for consumers everywhere. And Russia’s cuts in retaliation for sanctions have so far been smaller than expected. Of course, it could cut more, especially if this would put more economic pressure on the west and affect support for Ukraine.

This cocktail of uncertainties should encourage a more cautious stance when it comes to predicting oil prices, this year at least. Some analysts have already reduced their 2023 price forecasts, with estimates varying between US$81 and US$100 a barrel.

Expect more revisions. As one study that tracked the evolution of oil prices over four decades said: “all price expectations are subject to error”.

Carole Nakhle, Energy Economist, University of Surrey

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


From the dunes of Dubai to the soil of the Moon


to celebrate its independence and setting up, the United Arab Emirates is toying with expediting a vehicle  From the dunes of Dubai to the soil of the Moon.  Why not? Let us read this story from Gulf News of today.


UAE@51: From the dunes of Dubai to the soil of the Moon, Rashid Rover all set to make history

All you need to know about the UAE’s lunar mission that will take off on November 30

Rashid Rover’s core scientific mission is to better understand how lunar dust and rocks vary across the moon.Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In what is a huge feat ahead of the 51st UAE National Day, Emirati-made Rashid Rover will shoot to the Moon on Wednesday, November 30, at 12.39pm (Gulf Standard Time), carrying with it the pride and dreams of the UAE — and the entire Arab world.

From the desert dunes of the UAE to the soil of the Moon, the lunar rover — named after the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, builder of modern Dubai — will give mankind and the global scientific community more knowledge about Earth’s closest celestial neighbour.

It will land on Atlas Crater, located at 47.5°N, 44.4°E on the Moon’s southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold), and from there capture photos and collect information of the unexplored crater area and the vast basins on Moon’s surface that were formed billions of years ago.

Rashid Rover will study the characteristics of lunar soil, the petrography (composition and properties of lunar rocks) and geology of the Moon. It will also take photos of the moon’s dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the lunar regolith (blanket of superficial deposits covering solid rocks).Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

The UAE’s moonshot has lofty goals. According to Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC),“Rashid Rover will provide about 10 gigabytes of recorded material, scientific data and new images to the global scientific community to study the Moon.”

In particular, Rashid Rover will study the characteristics of lunar soil, the petrography (composition and properties of lunar rocks) and geology of the Moon. It will also take photos of the moon’s dust movement, surface plasma conditions, and the lunar regolith (blanket of superficial deposits covering solid rocks).

Rashid Rover will help scientists better understand how lunar dust and rocks vary across the Moon. It will also provide fresh data for the development of new technologies that can be used to unravel the origins of the Earth and our solar system.

The success of the first Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) will make the UAE the first Arab country and among the first countries in the world to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.

The success of the first Emirates Lunar Mission (ELM) will make the UAE the first Arab country and among the first countries in the world to land a spacecraft on the Moon, after the United States, former Soviet Union and China.Image Credit: Supplied

MBRSC underlined: “The mission embodies the aspirations of the UAE. Rashid Rover will collect images and information that will allow the UAE to conduct comprehensive and integrated studies on how to build human settlement on the Moon, prepare for future missions to study Mars and provide the scientific community with answers about the solar system and other planets.”

Before lift-off, let us look back at the timeline, technical specifications, instruments, functionalities and other important details of the Emirati-made Rashid Rover.

Two years ahead

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, first announced Rashid Rover in September 2020, and the original goal was to land it on the Moon by 2024.

An image to show where Rashid Rover will land on the moon.

In April 2021, MBRSC signed a contract with ispace, inc., a Japanese private lunar robotic exploration company, to transport Rashid Rover to the Moon aboard Hakuto-R M1 (mission 1) lander. Under the terms of the agreement, ispace will also provide wired communication and power during the cruise phase and engage in wireless communication on the lunar surface.

Launch date

Lift-off is on Wednesday, November 30, at 12.39pm (Gulf Standard Time) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But the date and time are subject to change, depending on weather and other conditions at launch, according to MBRSC.

Hakuto-R M1, which means ‘white rabbit’ in Japanese (it is said a white rabbit lives on the Moon, according to Japanese folklore), will also carry other payloads, including a transformable lunar robot from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; a test module for a solid-state battery from NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd., an artificial intelligence (AI) flight computer from Mission Control Space Services Inc., a multiple 360-degree camera from Canadensys Aerospace, a panel engraved with the names of Hakuto crowdfunding supporters, and a music disc containing the song ‘Sorato’ played by Japanese rock band Sakanaction.

Fuel-saving route

Once launched, the integrated spacecraft Hakuto-R M1 that will carry Rashid Rover and other payload to the Moon will take a low-energy route to the Moon rather than a direct approach. This means the landing on the Moon will take about five months after launch, in April 2023.

Dr Hamad Al Marzooqi, project manager of Emirates Lunar Mission at MBRSC, told Gulf News the rationale for the fuel-saving but long route. He said: “The main factor is the cost of the mission. The cost comes from the volume and mass of the spacecraft. In order to reach to the moon within six days – which is the shortest path – you would need to burn a lot of fuel which means that you need a big tank and a big propulsion system to do that.”

“But it will have a huge impact in cost so, in order to reduce the cost of the mission, ispace (our partner) has selected their approach that they can reach to the lunar surface within five months but it will be less costly because it will burn much less fuel. They will use a smaller tank and propulsion system, therefore the launch cost and the cost of developing the developing system will be lower,” he further explained.

Dimitra Atri, astrophysicist at New York University in Abu Dhabi, added: “In order to keep the prices of payload delivery attractive to customers, private companies reduce their expenses by choosing the lower cost option, which consumes less energy but takes much longer.”

Fully-automated landing

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take Hakuto-R M1 into the Moon’s orbit, and following its successful separation from the launch vehicle (rocket), Hakuto-R M1 will use the gravitational pull of the Earth and sun to guide it to the moon.

As it gets closer to the lunar surface, the Japanese-made lander will first orbit the moon with an increasingly elliptical trajectory, before angling itself vertically to softly land on the moon and perform a fully-automated landing.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will take Hakuto-R M1 into the Moon’s orbit.Image Credit: AP

Hakuto-R M1 will then establish a steady telecommunication and power supply on the lunar surface after landing to support customer payload’s surface operations, including that of the UAE’s Rashid Rover.

Landing site

MBRSC confirmed Atlas Crater, located at 47.5°N, 44.4°E on the moon’s southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Cold”), as Rashid Rover’s landing site.

MBRSC explained: “It was chosen to maintain flexibility during operations. Mare Frigoris lies in the far lunar north. The primary landing site was chosen along with multiple contingencies, which may be used depending on variables that occur during transit. The site meets the technical specifications of the lander technology demonstration mission and the scientific exploration objectives for the ELM mission.”

Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre.Image Credit: Supplied

Atlas Crater has a diameter of 88 kilometres, and believer to have been formed between 3.2 to 3.8 billion years ago. It is circular in shape and bounded by an intricately terraced rim wall. The crater is 2km deep and has a complex floor covered in hills and cracks.

Aside from Atlas Crater, alternative landing targets – according to ispace – include Lacus Somniorum, Sinus Iridium and Oceanus Procellarum, among others.

Compact rover

Designed and developed fully by an Emirati team, Rashid Rover is touted as the world’s most compact rover that could land on the Moon. Its height is 70cm, length is 50cm and width is 50cm. Its weight is approximately 10kg with payload, but it can climb over an obstacle up to 10cm tall and descend a 20-degree slope.

Because Rashid Rover has been delivered well ahead of the original 2024 deadline, building it required rapid prototyping. According to Al Marqoozi, engineers at MBRSC “went through five modules until they reached with the one” that will be launched on November 30.

Advanced cameras

The four-wheeled Rashid Rover has 3D cameras, advanced motion system, sensors, and communication system that are powered by solar panels. There are four cameras that move vertically and horizontally, including two main cameras, which are Caspex (camera for space exploration) that can withstand vibrations during launch and landing

MBRSC has partnered with French space agency CNES (National Centre for Space Studies) for the two Caspex that will be used analyse the properties of lunar soil, dust, radioactivity, electrical activities, as well as the rocks on the moon surface. One Caspex is installed on top of the rover’s mast to provide panoramic visibility of its surroundings while the rear-mounted CASPEX camera will deliver images of the lunar soil with high spatial resolution.

“Rashid Rover’s drive tracks will be analysed to determine wheel sinkage and to investigate the detailed wheel-soil interaction. Such data will be important to design the mobility systems of future rovers,” MBRSC noted.

Mission period

Rashid Rover will study the Moon’s surroundings for one lunar day, which is equivalent to 14 days on Earth. But there is a chance Rashid Rover’s mission can be extended to another lunar day. Al Marzooqi earlier explained: “After the first lunar day the rover will go into a hibernation or mode sleep during the (lunar) night (which is also equivalent to 14 Earth nights) until the sun rises again and the temperature on the rover surface starts to rise again. And by that time, the team will try to “wake up” Rashid Rover to see if its systems were able to survive the low temperatures and ready for the second lunar day.

The Moon’s environment, however, is very harsh. The temperature drops to as low as negative 173 degrees Celsius, from as high as 127 degrees Celsius, when sunlight hits the Moon’s surface. But Rashid Rover is equipped with the latest technologies that can resist the lunar surface temperature.

To the Moon and back

Rashid Rover will not return to Earth. It’s a one-way flight and there is no transport that will bring back Rashid Rover and Hakuto-R. What Rashid Rover will bring back to Earth are multiple images – around 10 gigabytes of recorded material and scientific data. The ELM team at MBRSC will use these to test new technologies in material science, robotics, mobility, navigation and communications. The findings will also help in the design of future missions to survive and function in harsh space environment.

Rashid Rover is just the first of the UAE’s multiple missions to the Moon. A couple of months ago, in September, MBRSC signed an agreement with China National Space Administration (CNSA) to kickstart joint space projects and future lunar exploration, including sending the next UAE rover aboard Chang’e 7, a robotic Chinese lunar exploration mission expected to be launched in 2026 to target the Moon’s south pole.