The “Hope” probe is the first space mission to Mars launched by the UAE, with the aim of using it to make a quantum leap in global science, the space sector in the country and its economy.
Here’s what you need to know about the mission.
The UAE Mission for Mars Exploration sent a probe to the orbit of the Red Planet. As with the other current Mars missions, run by China and the United States – Tianwen-1 and Mars 2020 respectively – the UAE mission began in July 2020. This occurred when Earth and Mars were particularly close to each other, reducing travel time to the planet. Red about two months old.
what’s in a name?
The probe was called “Al-Amal” in Arabic, and as such, the name is self-explanatory.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, said that the government chose the name from “thousands of proposals, because it sends a message of optimism to millions of Arab youth.”
He also added: “The Arab civilization once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play this role again. The Hope Probe embodies the culture of possibilities deeply rooted in the UAE’s approach, philosophy and journey to accelerate development.”
The first for the Emirates
The “Hope” probe is the UAE’s first interplanetary mission. The process aims to provide the global scientific community with new data. The probe will orbit Mars in a way never seen before.
The mission was announced in 2014 after a feasibility study the previous year. And only seven years passed from the idea to the launch.
And in 2006, the National Space Agency, run by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), began a knowledge transfer program with South Korea.
The collaboration produced a host of Earth observation satellites, including DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2, which were launched in 2009 and 2013. A nanoscale satellite called Nayif-1 followed in 2017.
And in 2018, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center launched the first remote sensing satellite “100% designed and built in the UAE”, KhalifaSat.
MRBSC also has an astronaut program, as Hazza Al Mansoori became the first Emirati to reach space when he traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) on a science mission in 2019.
The hoped-for “launch window”
The “Hope” probe was launched on July 20, 2020 – six days later than originally planned. And postponed due to bad weather, which is very common.
Where was the launch site?
The mission was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The site itself was used for KhalifaSat in 2018. The UAE has also launched missions from Kazakhstan, Russia and India.
A Japanese H-IIA rocket carried the probe into space.
Inclusion and operation of Mars’ orbit
The Hope probe entered its orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021. The date coincides with the UAE’s celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary.
What distinguishes the “Hope” orbit?
The orbit of “Hope” is designed to have an elliptical range from about 20,000 km at its lowest point to 43,000 km at its highest point. Scientists say the orbit allows them to explore the planet’s full “day” cycle – or from day to night – and Mars’ first cycle.
Why was it launched in July 2020?
Every 18 to 24 months, Earth and Mars align in a way that actually shortens the journey – or path – by 9 to 7 months.
The failure to start the flight during the “launch window” from July to August 2020 meant that the mission would wait another two years. But this was not good for the UAE’s fiftieth anniversary celebration, so Hope had to get off on time.
The Hope probe has three scientific objectives, but the main goal is to provide the first complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. Once verified, this data will be open to the global space research community.
Goal 1: Understand the climate dynamics of Mars and the global weather map of the planet, through characterization of the lower atmosphere.
Goal 2: Explain how the weather on Mars affects the escape of hydrogen and oxygen from its atmosphere.
Objective 3: To understand the structure and diversity of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere, and to determine why Mars lost those gases in space.
The data will be collected on Mars for an entire year on the red planet.
Another major goal is to provide new and useful insights into the global scientific community on Mars, and to advance our understanding of how and why Mars is unfit for human life – why its atmosphere does not protect us in the same way that our own atmosphere on Earth provides superior protection.
The UAE is keen to expand its science and technology sector, to transform the country into a more knowledge-based economy as global oil demand decreases.
Tools on the probe
The “Hope” probe features three instruments: the Emirates Exploration Imaging Device (EXI), the Infrared Spectrophotometer (EMIRS), and the Ultraviolet Spectrophotometer (EMUS).
EXI: He will study the lower atmosphere of Mars, and take high-resolution images. It will measure the optical depth of water ice in the atmosphere and analyze the Martian ozone layer.
EMIRS: It will study the lower atmosphere of Mars, and measure the global distribution of dust, ice clouds, water vapor, and temperature.
EMUS: It will measure the levels and diversity of carbon monoxide and oxygen in the Martian thermosphere. It would also measure oxygen and hydrogen in the outermost shell.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center has entered into partnerships with the Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the Space Science Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley; And the College of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.
He also collaborated with University College London, which produced a “value analysis” report on the UAE’s use of space to transform its future.
Chances of success
A lot could go wrong, but the UAE was successful in launching KhalifaSat from Japan, and it was on the same type of missile – so, that’s a good start.
But whether or not the Hope program succeeds, the UAE has bigger plans in space.
The UAE wants to establish a “first habitable human settlement” on Mars, by the year 2117. Part of this plan is Mars Science City, a group of laboratories that will examine the planet, as well as food and energy challenges there and here.
Source: Deutsche Welle