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The United Arab Emirates on February 9, 2021 (Tuesday) entered the red planet’s orbit with its first interplanetary mission ‘Hope Probe.’ The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) reached Mars’ orbit at 7:42 PM (Tuesday local time) and successfully sent its signal back to the Earth.

The success of Mars mission fulfills the 50-year-old dream of the UAE founder late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The year in which Hope Probe entered the orbit of Mars is also significant as UAE marks its 50th anniversary in 2021.

With an aim to boost the capabilities of engineers in the country and increasing knowledge on the Martian atmosphere, the mission was announced in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates.

The historic breakthrough where UAE pioneered in the Arab region in the global race of space exploration was only possible under the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Hope Probe’s entry into Mars orbit has made UAE the first Arab country and fifth country worldwide (or collaboration of countries) to reach the Red Planet orbit. The four others who entered Mars’ orbit before are former Soviet Union, the United States, Europe and India. UAE has also now become the second country after India to reach the Red Planet’s orbit in its first attempt.

“Arab civilization once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge and will play that role again,” HH Mohammed bin Rashid said, adding, “The Hope probe embodies the culture of possibilities deeply rooted in the UAE’s approach, philosophy and journey of accelerating development.”

Here’s all that you need to know about the UAE’s Mars mission ‘Hope Probe’:

What is UAE’s Hope Probe?

  • Hope ​is the ​first interplanetary mission of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the red planet Mars.
  • The name of unmanned spacecraft or probe is ‘Al-Amal’, which is an Arabic word for hope. This name was preferred because ‘it sends a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs’.

What will Hope Probe do?

  • The Hope Probe aims to provide the first ever complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.  It will also help to understand the climate dynamics and the global weather map better.
  • It will aid to share insights on why Mars is uninhabitable for humans.
  • The Emirates Mars Mission is programmed to collect 1 TB of novel data on Mars’ atmosphere and its dynamics.
  • Once verified, the data will be shared with the global space research community.

What makes UAE’s Hope Probe novel?

  • The Hope Probe will study the atmosphere from such an angle and orbital inclination that no other Mars spacecraft have before. The orbit has an elliptical range from about 20,000 km at its lowest point to 43,000 km at its highest point.
  • Before this UAE has launched three space missions but all were Earth-observation satellites.

What are the instruments used in Hope Probe?

  • The Hope probe structures three instruments- an Emirates exploration Imager (EXI), an Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer (EMIRS), and an Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS).
  • The EXI can capture high-resolution images, study the lower atmosphere of the planet, analyze the Martian ozone and measure the optical depth of water ice in the atmosphere.
  • The EMIRS can study the Martian lower atmosphere and measure the global distribution of dust, ice water vapor, clouds and temperature
  • While the EMUS can measure the levels and variability of carbon monoxide and oxygen in the Martian thermosphere. It can also fetch details on oxygen and hydrogen in the exosphere.

When and where was Hope Probe launched?

  • Emirates Mars Mission was rocketed into space seven months ago on July 20, 2020 at 1:58 AM (UAE time) from Tanegashima​ Space Centre in Japan by Japanese H-IIA rocket, built and operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
  • The spacecraft was launched six days after it was scheduled due to bad weather.
  • The Hope Probe has made a journey of 493,500,000 kms on its way to Mars.

How long will Hope Probe stay on Mars?

  • The duration of the UAE’s Mars Mission is One Martian Year (about two years). One Martian year counts to 687 days.
  • The data at Mars will be collected for a whole Martian year.

The UAE had in 2017 launched its $136m Mars Science City project where it aims to establish ‘the first inhabitable human settlement’ on Mars by 2117.

Now that UAE has taken one step closer, the country has proved to establish its position as a beacon of progress in the region and has also opened doors to international collaboration in Mars exploration.

The successful Mars mission of UAE has outlined the capabilities of Emiratis in the field of interplanetary exploration. The mission is also expected to inspire country’s youth and future generations to peruse space science.

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