Spacecraft would need to slingshot first around Venus and then the Earth to gather enough speed to reach an asteroid some 560 million kilometers

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday announced plans to send a probe to land on an asteroid between Mars and Jupiter to collect data on the origins of the universe, the latest project in the oil-rich federation’s ambitious space program, the AP reports.

A successful landing would see the UAE join an elite club of the European Union, Japan and the United States, which have completed the feat. The probe would remain behind on the asteroid, transmitting back to Earth information on the composition of the asteroid as long as its batteries remain charged.

The project targets a 2028 launch with a landing in 2033, a five-year journey in which the spacecraft will travel some 3.6 billion kilometers (2.2 billion miles). The spacecraft would need to slingshot first around Venus and then the Earth to gather enough speed to reach an asteroid some 560 million kilometers (350 million miles) away.

It’s still under discussion what data the Emirates will collect but the mission will be an even greater challenge that previous ones, given the spacecraft will travel both near the sun and far from it, said Sarah al-Amiri, the chair of the UAE Space Agency and a minister of state for advanced technology.

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