United Arab Emirates launches mission to Mars

UNTV News   •   July 20, 2020   •   1103

The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday (July 20) as it strives to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.

The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.

The first Arab mission to Mars was initially due to launch on July 14, but has been delayed twice due to bad weather.

Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth.

There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year.

The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million, according to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.

The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.

It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space last September when he flew to the International Space Station.

To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions.

The MBRSC space centre in Dubai will oversee the spacecraft during its 494 million km (307 million mile) journey at an average speed of 121,000 km per hour. (Reuters)

(Production: Abdelhadi Ramahi, Tarek Fahmy)

PH signs new labor accord with UAE; to resume deployment of household workers on March 31

Marje Pelayo   •   March 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced the signing of the historic new labor accord between the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) giving greater protection to Filipino household service workers.

Part of the agreement is the Philippine government’s resumption of deployment of household service workers to the Emirates starting March 31.

The Philippines stopped sending household service workers to UAE in 2014.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III hailed the agreement as a milestone in the government’s efforts to further protect Filipino overseas workers.

According to Philippine delegation head Undersecretary Claro Arellano, the new deployment will now be covered by a Unified Employment Contract with provisions similar to the standard employment contract being used in Kuwait.

The contract provides stringent measures to protect Filipino household workers pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Under the unified contract, both the employer and the Foreign Recruitment Agencies, and the Philippine Recruitment Agencies are bound by joint and solidary liability should anything happen to the Filipino workers.

The four-party contract, which becomes addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Labor Cooperation with Annex Protocol on Domestic Workers, incorporates the President’s instructions for specific provisions to ensure the safety and well-being of household workers as follows:

  1. The right of the domestic worker to take at least eight (8) continuous hours of sleep every night;
  2. The right of the domestic worker to take a break that is paid, outside the residence of the employer at least one (1) full day every week;
  3. The right of the domestic worker to keep his/her passport or identification documents and the employer is not allowed to hold them;
  4. The employer shall allow the domestic worker to have and use cellular phones and other communication devices and the employer is prohibited from confiscating them;
  5. Opening of bank account under the name of the domestic worker for payment of salary; and
  6. Allowing the domestic workers to cook her or his own food.

The agreement was signed during the two-day Joint Committee Meeting between countries held in Manila on Wednesday (March 3) with Saif Ahmed Alsuwaidi, undersecretary of Human Resources and Emiratisation representing the UAE.

Another significant achievement in the meeting is the agreement on the conversion of tourist/visit visa to working visa. 

As agreed, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) will be notified when a visit visa is converted to employment visa for a Filipino domestic worker.

The Philippines reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel.

Therefore, the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.

UAE to release bodies of 2 Filipinos killed in Abu Dhabi gas explosion after probe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday (September 3) confirmed that the remains of the two Filipinos killed in the Abu Dhabi gas explosion will only be released once investigation is finished.

Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana said the UAE authorities want the probe to be completed first before they allow the repatriation of the bodies.

“Dahil ito ay isang aksidente, kailangan muna na matapos ang imbestigasyon at iyan ang aming nililinaw sa mga pamilya at humihingi po kami ng pang-unawa,” Quintana said during the Laging Handa virtual briefing Thursday.

(Because this is an accident, the investigation needs to be completed first. This is what we have clarified to the families and we ask for their understanding.)

The embassy official said they have reached out to the families of the victims to explain the process assuring them that the UAE authorities have committed to expediting the investigation.

“Mismong sila ay nakikipagusap sa pamilya at kami ang nagiging tulay. Kapag natapos iyon ay saka naman natin uupuan kung ano ang next steps para sa mga pamilya na naiwan,” she added.

([The UAE authorities] themselves are communicating with the families and we connect them with each other. Once [the investigation] is done, we will discuss what to do next to assist the bereaved families.]

READ: Two Filipinos died in Abu Dhabi restaurant blast — DFA

Apart from the two fatalities, a total of 10 Filipinos were injured in the blast that happened on August 31. Eight of them were sent to hospitals for treatment.

To date, five have already been discharged while three others are still recovering.

NASA poised to launch new rover to seek evidence of past Martian life

UNTV News   •   July 30, 2020

NASA is set to launch an ambitious mission to Mars on Thursday (July 30) with the liftoff of its next-generation Perseverance rover, a six-wheeled robot tasked with deploying a mini helicopter, testing out equipment for future human missions and searching for traces of past Martian life.

The $2.4 billion mission, slated for liftoff at 7:50 a.m. ET (1150 GMT) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, is planned as the U.S. space agency’s ninth trek to the Martian surface. The United Arab Emirates and China separately this month launched probes to Mars in displays of technological prowess and ambition.

Launching atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, the car-sized Perseverance rover is expected to reach Mars next February. It is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists believe could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.

“This is the first time in history where we’re going to go to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a news briefing on Wednesday (July 29).

The rover will attempt for the first time to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth, collecting materials in cigar-sized capsules and leaving them scattered on the surface for retrieval by a future “fetch” rover. That conceptual rover is expected to launch the samples back into space to link up with other spacecraft for an eventual Earth homecoming around 2031.

Also aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter dubbed Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.

“Imagine a day when we land a robot on Mars and that robot can send maybe a dozen helicopters in different directions to make different discoveries,” Bridenstine said.

Since NASA’s first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others – Spirit and Opportunity – that have revealed the geology of vast Martian plains and found evidence of past water formations, among other discoveries. NASA has successfully sent three landers – Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight – as well.

The United States has plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under its Artemis program, which envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the bigger leap to Mars. (Reuters)

(Production: Rollo Ross)

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