Feb. 8—The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope mission to Mars will mark a significant moment in history for the Arab world and space exploration.
The UAE’s Hope mission is scheduled to reach the Red Planet on Tuesday, Feb. 9, making it the first of three spacecraft that launched to Mars in July, including NASA’s Perseverance rover and China’s Tianwen-1 mission, according to CNN’s Ashley Strickland.
“Hope”, known as “Al-Amal” in Arabic, will orbit the planet for at least one Martian year, or 687 days, while the Tianwen-1 from China and the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover from the US will both land on Mars’ surface,” Dana Moukhallati with PHYS.org said.
Steering the spacecraft around Mars won’t prove to be an easy feat for the Emirates Mars Mission.
The spacecraft will first have to complete “an intense engine burn” independent of any support from the mission’s engineers, who will be waiting anxiously for updates that are delayed by 10 minutes, according to Meghan Bartels with Space.com.
Sarah Al Amiri, chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, described the maneuver during a virtual event hosted on Feb. 1, according to Bartels.
“What that means is 27 minutes of burning fuel, of using our thrusters, of the spacecraft undergoing one of the toughest challenges that its been designed for.”
If successful, the milestone will mark the UAE as only the fifth country in our history to orbit the Red Planet.
According to Bartels, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, described the significance of this mission.
“The UAE has led the Arab world to new frontiers in deep space for the first time in history. Our space mission carries a message of hope and confidence in Arab youth.”
The Hope probe and its three scientific instruments will also serve to provide the first “complete portrait of the Martian atmosphere,” according to Strickland. “The instruments will collect different data points on the atmosphere to also gauge seasonal and daily changes.”
So what if the mission fails?
Al Amiri said the Hope will likely continue on a path around the sun and the UAE’s space agency will continue forging ahead with other space exploration strategies, such as a mission to the moon and a “century-long Mars strategy.”
The UAE Space Agency will air live coverage of Hope’s arrival on the Red Planet on its website beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET.
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