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Hope Mars Mission: UAE launches first-ever Arab space mission to explore Red Planet

The Hope space probe is expected to take images and send back data of the distant Red Planet.

Jul 20, 2020 12:12 IST
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The United Arab Emirates launched 'Hope' - an unmanned space probe to Mars from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan on July 19, 2020. The historic space mission has made UAE the first Arab nation to achieve the feat.

Hope Probe Spacecraft will aim to study the atmosphere of the Red Planet. It was launched aboard H2A rocket from southern Japan at 6:58 am local time. The mission is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission and it places UAE much ahead of all the gulf nations in the space sector. 

The probe's launch had been twice delayed earlier because of bad weather. The space probe is expected to reach the Red Planet by February 2021, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of UAE’s unification- an alliance of seven emirates.

Objective

The UAE’s Mars probe aims to provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in Mars' atmosphere and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs. The Mars probe will serve as a foundation for a much bigger goal of building a human settlement on Mars within the next 100 years.

Speaking on the probe, the mission’s deputy project manager and UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, Sarah al-Amiri said that the Mars probe will be a message of hope for the region to set an example of what is possible if we take the talent of the youth and use them positively. 

The Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted saying that the Hope space probe will travel 495 million km to space with a cruise speed of 121,000 km/hr in the first Arab mission to the Red Planet.  He added saying that the data gathered from the mission will add a new dimension to the human knowledge.

Key Highlights 

The separation of the Hope spacecraft was confirmed after the launch vehicle trajectory was executed as planned. The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, had been lit up hours before the historic liftoff. It displayed the 10-second countdown moments before the launch. 

This mission is a huge milestone for the UAE and for the Gulf Region. The UAE has been making huge scientific leaps in comparison to the rest of the Gulf nations by building a nuclear power programme and sending a man to space. 

Director-General of UAE Space Agency Mohammed al-Ahbabi stated that the nation had figured out that space is very important for the nation’s development and sustainability. 

The deputy project manager of the mission stated that they have worked on investing in the space sector for over 15 years. The main objective it to ensure that the talent is developed for the rest of the region.

The UAE has opened its doors to Arabs across the region to take part in its three-year space programme in its runup to the Mars mission. 

Sarah al-Amiri stated that the Arabs will be allowed to come in, gain experience and be the vehicles of change for the entire region. 

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) is spearheading the Mars project and more than half of the people working on the project are Emirati.

Significance

If UAE is successful in sending a probe to Mars, it will become the first Arab nation to do so and the fifth nation in the world, after India, former Soviet Union, the US and the European Space Agency.  Dubai has hired architects to imagine and recreate a Martian city in its desert as "Science City", at a cost of around USD 135 million. 

UAE sends man to space

UAE’s Hazza al-Mansouri had become the first Emirati to travel to space and visit the International Space Station. He was a part of a three-member crew that blasted off on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan in September 2019. He had returned home after an eight-day mission. 

Background

UAE's space probe is one of three Mars missions scheduled for this year, other two include Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States. The missions aim to take advantage of the period when Mars is closest to the Earth. In October 2020, Mars is expected to be comparatively close to the Earth at about 38.6 million miles away.

However, unlike the other two Mars missions, which aim to land on the red planet, UAE's mission will orbit the planet for 687 days or one whole Martian year.  

Only India, US, USSR and European Space Agency have been successful till now in sending missions to orbit the Red planet. India had created history by becoming the first country to successfully insert its Mars Orbiter Mission, Manglayaan, in the Martian orbit in its first attempt. India’s Mangalyaan had entered Mars orbit on September 24, 2014.

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