The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) has announced the successful completion of TCM3 – its third and last major trajectory correction manoeuvre. The Hope Probe’s arrival and Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) will mean the UAE will become the fifth nation to reach the Red planet.
With 189 million kilometres remaining, the Hope Probe will reach its planned orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021. It has already covered 60% of its journey, equivalent to 290 million kilometres in 111 days since its launch on July 20.
Commenting on the milestone, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “The Hope Probe mission is the culmination of a 50-year journey, which began in 1971. It also marks the beginning of another 50 years that will bring about major achievements based in the fields of science, knowledge and innovation. Our nation does not have the word impossible in its dictionary and our leadership will not settle for anything less than the first place.”
In a tweet, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai said: “Even before reaching its orbit, the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe has succeeded in instilling a new culture in the hearts and minds of this nation’s men and women; a culture that prioritizes science in shaping our future and reiterates our nation’s limitless ambitions after successfully entering space. We have become the first Arab country to succeed in exploring a planet, and our nation joins an exclusive group of only seven countries that have explored Mars.”
His Highness affirmed that the UAE’s arrival at Mars as the fifth country in the world is a historic achievement and places great responsibility on future generations to continue the march of progress.
Since the Hope Probe’s successful launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Center on July 20, the team has spent more than 15,000 working hours closely monitoring its path to Mars.
Having already completed the launch and early operations phases, the Probe is currently in the third of six stages of its journey. The Early Orbit Phase, began at the end of the Launch phase and lasted about 45 days. Throughout that time, the Probe was monitored 24 hours a day by the operation and spacecraft teams to ensure that the spacecraft and all its components and systems were in optimal running condition.
The probe is currently in its Cruise phase. During this time, the operations team at the ground station at MBRSC in Dubai periodically monitors the state of the probe, as it is in contact with the spacecraft two to three times a week, to check the subsystems health, calibrate the interments, and understand the performance of the probe. This phase also includes monitoring the probe’s flight path by conducting a series of trajectory correction manoeuvres (TCMs). The project team conducted two successful manoeuvres previously, in addition to a more recent one, which is the third in the probe’s trip to Mars. Currently, the team is back to the 24-hour contact schedule to prepare for the next phase.
Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency and EMM Science Lead, noted: “The Probe is successfully continuing its historic journey to its orbit around the Red Planet, thanks to the team’s meticulous planning and hard work. The team has received limitless support from the country’s wise leadership, in accordance with its vision and instructions to strengthen the nation’s space sector. This shall be achieved through enabling the nation’s youth to contribute to the development of a knowledge-based economy and encourage them to focus on innovation and industries built on advanced technology. They will shape a globally competitive economy that contributes to finding solutions to the challenges we are going through today and could face in the future. The Hope Probe also prioritizes the diversification and resilience of the economy’s resources, based on science and technology.”
HE Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Chairman of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), remarked: “The eyes of the nation will be on the Hope Probe on February 9th 2021, as it marks its entry into Mars’ orbit. The Emirates Mars Mission confirms the UAE’s commitment to investing in the future. Space missions are a gateway to scientific progress across multiple sectors and are an opportunity to build our very own scientific knowledge hub. They are also an important pillar in our march towards a sustainable future. The success of the third Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre is a major milestone in the success of the mission. We are sure that the mission will benefit the international scientific community and will further enhance the position of the UAE in the regional and global space sector. Additionally, the success of this mission is a testament to the UAE’s role in promoting scientific progress for the benefit of humanity.”
Upon its arrival to mars, the Hope Probe will travel in a 20,000km – 43,000 km elliptical science orbit and will complete one orbit of the planet every 55 hours. As a result of its highly innovative orbit, Hope Probe will take the first-ever planet-wide picture of Mars’ atmospheric dynamics and weather.
During this time, the contact period with the Mission Operation Center will be limited to six to eight hours, twice a week and it is expected that the Probe will transfer over one terabyte of novel data on Mars’ atmosphere. In parallel, the instruments that it carries will continue to routinely observe Mars’ surface and atmosphere, so that an understanding of the weather is gained for every point on the ground, over every time zone, and through every season. It will also contribute to forming the first complete picture of the Martian atmosphere, which will be provided to the global scientific community in more than 200 academic and research institutions.
The Hope Probe carries three tools to measure and study the Martian atmosphere, and weighs about 1,350 kg – the size of a small car. It was designed and built by MBRSC engineers in cooperation with global knowledge transfer partners.