The first of the three missions to Mars sent in 2020 has reached its target!
A historic moment for the Arab world! Tonight, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope Mars mission successfully arrived in orbit around Mars, making the country the fifth space power to reach the red planet after the United States, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency (ESA), and India.
Hope’s engines ignited and ran for 27 minutes – the amount of time it took for the automatic interplanetary station to slow down and become an artificial satellite of Mars. As the radio signal travels to Earth in 11 minutes, albeit at the speed of light, it took additional time before we received the official confirmation.
The UAE had also organized a special TV broadcast showing the arrival of Hope around Mars in real-time which is something we will not see from tomorrow’s Chinese Tianwen-1 mission arrival.
— Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) February 7, 2021
Scientific Instruments and Mission Goals
I remind readers that the Hope automatic interplanetary station, which is 2.37 meters wide, 2.90 meters long, and weighs 1,500 kilograms, was built in the United States by a team of 150 Emirati and 200 American engineers and scientists.
The construction was carried out in the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, USA. The Emirates has spent about $200 million on the robotic expedition, which includes the cost of launching, but not the implementation of the scientific program.
The main scientific goals of the expedition are related to solving the mysteries of the Martian atmosphere. The Hope Mars Mission will investigate the mechanisms by which hydrogen and oxygen leave the upper atmosphere and fly into space. This will help unravel the mystery of why the atmosphere on Mars has thinned and the planet has changed. In the past, the Martian surface was warm and covered with oceans, and today it is a cold desert.
Three scientific instruments have been installed onboard the automatic interplanetary station:
• EXI (Emirates eXploration Imager) – this is the main camera of the mission. It was created by Emirati and American engineers at the University of Colorado. It is capable of taking photos in the ultraviolet and visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
• EMIRS (Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer) – this infrared spectrometer was built at the University of Arizona, USA. It will study the temperature characteristics of Mars, as well as the ice, water vapor, and dust whirlwinds of the planet.
• EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) – ultraviolet spectrometer, re-created at the University of Colorado by Emirati and American engineers. It will study the upper atmospheric layers of the Red Planet.
UAE’s Astronautics History Before the Hope Mars Mission
The UAE is a country that has relatively recently shown space ambitions. The Emirates first participated in a satellite launch in 2009 when it partnered with a South Korean company. The first satellite built independently by the Arab side was sent into space in 2018 and is named “KhalifaSat”.
The UAE expedition that arrived around Mars today is robotic, but the country also has a manned space program, which is carried out in cooperation with other countries. In September 2019, the first astronaut of the Emirates, named Hazzaa Al Mansuri, was launched aboard the Russian ship Soyuz. The astronaut spent about a week on the ISS. The ambitions of the Emirates are to one day send a man to the Red Planet.
I would also like to remind you that Hope is the first of three missions to arrive on Mars this month. After today’s success, we expect the positioning of the Chinese mission “Tianwen-1” in orbit around Mars tomorrow, and on February 18 the NASA rover “Perseverance” will land on the Martian surface.
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• Bartels, M. (2021, February 09). Welcome to Mars! Uae’s Hope probe enters orbit around red planet.
• Howell, E. (2021, February 09). UAE’s hope PROBE arrives at Mars today! Here’s how to watch.
• Strickland, A. (2021, February 09). The UAE’s Hope probe has successfully entered orbit around Mars.
• Turak, N. (2021, February 09). United Arab Emirates becomes the first Arab country to reach Mars.