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The United Arab Emirates became the first Arab country to launch an interplanetary probe over the weekend, thanks in part to help the country received from the University of California at Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory.

The UAE launched its Hope Probe around 3 p.m. Pacific time Sunday and it is expected to arrive at Mars in February. The probe will then spend two years orbiting the planet to monitor its atmosphere.

Scientists from UC Berkeley, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University assisted the Emirati engineers and scientists working on the probe by offering training and instrument components.

“The (UAE) government has invested heavily in education, especially women’s education, to lay the groundwork for a future in which entrepreneurs, inventors and ideas — not oil — are funding their economy,” SSL Associate Director for Planetary Science Robert Lillis said.

Lillis was the mission’s lead scientist at UC Berkeley and monitored the launch from California. The probe launched from a site on the Japanese island of Tanegashima.

UC Berkeley has fostered the partnership with the UAE’s probe launch over the last five years by hosting 10 undergraduate students from the country to research space science, and the science of Mars specifically.

Scientists from the SSL also visited UAE universities and girls’ and boys’ schools to promote an interest in science, according to UC Berkeley.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the drive, professionalism, curiosity and ambition of the UAE team,” Lollis said. “Not only their excellent engineers, but the several science apprentices and summer undergraduate interns we have had the privilege of working with at Berkeley these last five summers.”

More information about the probe mission can be found online.