The United Arab Emirates has created history with the successful launch of the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, thus becoming the first interplanetary mission by any Arab country.
After liftoff, the Hope Probe successfully detached from the launch rocket, and first signals were received by the Control Center at Al Khawaneej in Dubai.
The first command from the ground control station was also transmitted to the Probe to deploy its solar panels, operate its satellite navigation systems, and launch its missile propulsion systems, effectively marking the start of the Probe’s journey to the Red Planet.
The journey is expected to last seven months, travelling a distance of 493m km, before entering the Martian orbit in February 2021, coinciding with UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
The Hope Probe successfully lifted off at 01:58 am UAE time on July 20, after the countdown for the last 10 seconds was done in Arabic.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai said: “The UAE has created history with an unprecedented Arab space achievement. We rely on the UAE’s youth and they never disappoint… they have made us all proud and have ushered in a new era in our history. The journey has begun … and the mission has just commenced … Next stop: The Red Planet.”
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said: “The UAE has strengthened its position as a country that creates the future and embraces hope. I congratulate the Emirati people for the historic achievement. Our global position is further enhanced, thanks to the efforts of our people.”
He added: “The success of this launch is a culmination of five decades of accomplishments across different fields for the UAE. Today, we’re reaping what our founding fathers have sowed by creating qualified Emirati talents which are helping us compete with the world.”
“The UAE is winning the bet, and our people have proved their ability to achieve the impossible. The future is much greater and better.”
The Probe’s launch was delayed twice due to unstable weather conditions at the launch site in Tanegashima Island in Japan. Thick cloud cover and cold air layers disrupted the two previous launch dates on July 15 and 17. The launch window was until August 3 2020.
The Probe will collect essential data, and provide the first comprehensive and complete picture of the climatic conditions on Mars throughout the year, the atmosphere changes during the day and between seasons of the year, monitoring Mars weather phenomena, temperature changes and climate patterns, in addition to revealing the causes behind surface erosion of the Red Planet.
The Hope Probe will collect this massive data on Mars and transmit it to the scientific data centre in the UAE. The scientific team of the project in the UAE will index and analyze this data so that it will be shared with the scientific community to serve humanity.
The Hope Probe is carrying three instruments – the Emirates eXploration Imager [EXI], a digital camera that will capture high-resolution images of Mars along with measuring water ice and ozone in the lower atmosphere through the UV bands; the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer [EMIRS] – to measure the global distribution of dust, ice cloud, and water vapour in the Martian lower atmosphere; and the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer [EMUS], which will measure oxygen and carbon monoxide in the thermosphere and the variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere.