The UAE’s leaders reviewed the Hope probe’s pre-flight preparations days before its historic launch to Mars from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center in the first-ever Arab interplanetary mission.
Through a video meeting, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Dubai and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), were briefed on the range of technical tasks overseen by the space mission’s team.
The video meeting was held with the Emirati launch team in Japan and 21 engineers from the UAE Space Agency and MBRSC stationed at the mission control room in Dubai’s Al Khawaneej.
They listened to the plans set to manage the several launch phases before expressing their confidence in the team’s capability of effectively managing and executing the historic mission despite any rising challenges.
They praised the relentless coordination and efforts of the Emirati teams at both the launch site in Japan and the ground station in Dubai to transfer the probe on time for its initial launch amid the health and logistical challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The mission’s launch team in Japan have completed final testing and technical checks to prepare the Hope Probe for takeoff following the multiple delays caused by the unstable weather conditions on-site.
The team at the ground station in MBRSC in Al Khawaneej are set to monitor the Hope probe’s journey to Mars from the launch to the day it enters the Red Planet’s orbit.
In the first 30 days, the team at the control room will take round-the-clock shifts to control the probe and record its first transmission. The control room will receive data once the probe is released from the rocket and the two solar panels will be deployed to charge the spacecraft’s onboard batteries.
Addressing the launch team in Japan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “In 1976, the late Sheikh Zayed met NASA experts because space was his ambition. Today, you are making his dream come true. The young capacities and engineers who have learned and reached to this stage today is what the whole project is about.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan conveyed regards from the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan Al Nahyan to the team in Japan and said, “We are certain that we will live up to the trust and confidence of our ancestors who established this home for us and granted us stability, prosperity and bright future.”
Addressing HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he said: “Thanks to your efforts and determination, we see these young talents today bringing pride to us, their families, their country and the Arab world.” He added, “This historic event would not have been possible without the devotion, determination and persistence of my brother Mohammed bin Rashid to make this day a milestone in our lives and in the journey of our nation.”
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed that “today marks a milestone in the history of UAE and the Arab nation because this unprecedented achievement is for all the Arabs.” He added, “the fact that this achievement was crafted by Emirati hands certainly makes it a historic day. It brings great honour to me and the people of UAE – citizens and residents. I am sure that the heart of every Emirati is with us today.”
Addressing the team, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “We look forward to celebrating the first transmission from the Hope probe together when it begins its journey to the Red Planet. The Mars data gathered by the probe will be a scientific discovery dedicated for the benefit of humanity.”
He noted: “This achievement is from the UAE’s Mars mission team to the rest of the Arab world. It’s an invitation from the UAE to Arab youth and scientists to join us for new scientific achievements. We have entered the space era and more missions await us. We need all the innovative Arab minds on board.”
Once it enters Mars’ orbit in the first quarter of 2021, the Hope probe will mark the UAE’s 50th anniversary. The probe will travel 493m km into space in a journey that will take seven months and will orbit the Red Planet for one full Martian year of 687 days to provide the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere. The Hope probe will be the first to study the Martian climate throughout daily and seasonal cycles. It will observe the weather phenomena in Mars such as the massive famous dust storms that have been known to engulf the Red Planet, as compared to the short and localised dust storms on Earth.
The Mars Hope probe will examine the interaction between the upper and lower layers of the Martian atmosphere and causes of the Red Planet’s surface corrosion, as well as study why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere.
Exploring connections between today’s Martian weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet will give deeper insights into the past and future of Earth and the potential of life on Mars and other distant planets.
The probe will gather and send back new Mars data to the Science Data Center in the UAE via different ground stations spread around the world. The data will be catalogued and analysed by the Emirates Mars Mission science team and shared for free with the international Mars science community as a service to human knowledge.
The insights and data gained from understanding the Martian climate will add new dimensions to human knowledge about how atmospheres work, which will help scientists and researchers evaluate distant worlds for conditions that might support life.
The Hope Mars Mission is considered the biggest strategic and scientific national initiative announced by UAE’s President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2014.
The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising necessary details for implementation, while the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center is responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development, and the launch of the Hope probe.