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UAE Hope Probe: To Mars and beyond

UAE Hope Probe: To Mars and beyond

Along with the Hope Probe, the UAE’s space ambitions and its endeavours towards a knowledge-based economy have also taken flight

UAE Hope Probe

On July 20, space enthusiasts watched with bated breath as the Hope Probe lifted off from the Tanegashima Island in Japan on a 493.5 million km long journey, in what is the UAE’s – and the Arab world’s – first mission to Mars.

The culmination of a six-year effort of 200 Emirati engineers and researchers – who constructed the Arab world’s first spacecraft – the Hope probe is anticipated to enter the red planet’s orbit in February 2021.

As part of its journey, the rocket will initially be put into the Earth’s orbit and will stay there until the exact alignment with Mars is achieved.

The mission’s completion will also coincide with the golden jubilee of the UAE next year.

The Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe will orbit the red planet for a full Martian year of 687 days to provide a complete picture of its atmosphere and layers, examining the reasons for Mars’ surface corrosion and what led to the planet losing its upper atmosphere.

Exploring the connect between the current Martian weather and its ancient climate will also offer insights into the potential of life on Mars and other distant planets.

Additionally, climatic insights will foster a renewed understanding of the functionality of atmospheres and aid in finding solutions to the challenges faced on earth.

Data sent back by the probe will be analysed and shared for free with the international Mars science community for greater benefit.

Implemented by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, with the UAE Space Agency funding and supervising procedures, the probe will also lend ‘hope’ to the UAE’s ambitious programme of establishing human colonies on the red planet by the year 2117.

However, that project will only be possible if a methodical approach is adopted, a senior NASA scientist noted.

“I think we’ll get there,” Dr. Lori Glaze, planetary science division director at NASA said, prior to the launch.

The first step in that direction will be to return samples from Mars to demonstrate that humans can go to the red planet and actually come back – then proving the ability to bring in heavier spacecraft on Mars in order to return people, the scientist explained.

“I think we need to have realistic expectations and take it one step at a time and keep moving to that next step and that next level of capability so that we can eventually realise that dream,” she said.

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