The Emirati “Al-Amal” probe, on Tuesday 9 February, succeeded in entering the orbit of Mars, to make history as the first interplanetary mission in the Arab world.
After taking off towards Mars in July of last year and traveling in space millions of kilometers, the probe reached the orbit of the Red Planet.
The probe is designed to reveal the secrets of Mars weather, but the UAE also wants it to be a source of inspiration for the region’s youth.
The probe traveled about seven months, about 300 million miles, to reach Mars, with the aim of mapping its atmosphere throughout each season.
In the background, an orbiter and lander are approaching China, which is scheduled to reach the planet on Wednesday, February 10. It will orbit Mars until the lander detaches and attempt to land on the surface next May to look for signs of ancient life.
A probe from the United States called “Perseverance” is due to join the crowd next week, with the goal of landing on February 18 on the surface of the Red Planet. It will be the first stop in a decade-long US-European project to return Mars rocks to Earth to be examined for evidence of whether the planet once harbored microscopic life.
About 60% of all Mars missions ended in failure, collapse, combustion, or failure to demonstrate the complexity of interplanetary travel and the difficulty of descending through the thin Martian atmosphere.
If it succeeds, China will become the second country to successfully land on Mars. The United States did this eight times, the first time nearly 45 years ago, and the NASA probe and rover are still working on the surface until now.
For the United Arab Emirates, this was the country’s first adventure outside Earth’s orbit, making the trip a matter of national pride.
For days, iconic landmarks across the United Arab Emirates, including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower on Earth, were lit red to celebrate the probe’s arrival in the orbit of Mars.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the country, which is placing more attention on the probe.
The “Celestial Weather Station” in the Martian orbit aims to reach an exceptional altitude ranging between 13670 miles to 2340 miles (22,000 km to 44,000 km) to monitor the Martian climate and its atmosphere.
Today, we are proud of what we have achieved through a march that started from the desert to embrace space in record time. A country that boasts leaders in which they believed in humans, thus creating national competencies that brought us to Mars in a wonderful scene. A new page of history brings to mind the Arab leadership in creating human civilization at an exceptional moment. pic.twitter.com/KH7LrEcsRO
– Maktoum Bin Mohammed (@MaktoumMohammed) February 9, 2021
We congratulate the people of the Emirates..We congratulate all the Arab and Islamic peoples..We congratulate humanity on the arrival of its first mission in 2021 to the planet Mars … Today a new phase of Arab scientific history has begun … a stage called confidence … confidence in ourselves, our youth and our Arab peoples … confidence that we can compete Other nations and peoples pic.twitter.com/O2Yu4wT50t
– HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) February 9, 2021
The Hope probe joins six spacecraft already operating around Mars: three of them are American, two European and one Indian.
The Hope Probe is expected to perform a complex and high-stakes series of turns, launch the engine to maneuver into orbit, and achieve what previously eluded many.
“Anything goes a little wrong and you lose the spacecraft,” said Sarah Al Ameri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Head of the UAE Space Agency.
The success will be a huge boost to the UAE’s space ambitions. And the first astronaut set off in the country in 2019, when he took a trip to the International Space Station with the Russians, and this is 58 years after the Soviet Union and the United States launched astronauts.
In developing the Hope Probe, the UAE chose to collaborate with more experienced partners rather than go it alone or buy a spacecraft elsewhere. Its engineers and scientists have worked with researchers at the University of Colorado, University of California at Berkeley and Arizona State University.
The spacecraft was assembled in Boulder, Colorado, before it was sent to Japan for launch last July.
The cost to build and launch the Hope Probe is $ 200 million, not including operating costs on Mars. The Chinese and US missions are much more complex and expensive, with NASA’s Perseverance mission worth $ 3 billion.
“This mission was not just about getting to Mars,” said Imran Sharaf, director of the Hope Project. “Mars is just a means to a much bigger goal.”
It is noteworthy that the Probe of Hope will orbit the Red Planet for at least one Martian year, or 687 days, using three scientific instruments to observe the Martian atmosphere.
It is expected to begin sending information back to Earth in September 2021, with data available for scientists around the world to study.
And unlike the other two Mars projects, China’s Tianwen-1 and the US Mars 2020 Perseverance, the Emirati probe will not land on the red planet.