The United Arab Emirates' first space mission to Mars will soon be entering the red planet’s orbit and making its historic landing. The mission was launched seven months ago from the Tanegashima Island in Japan on July 20, 2020 and is currently moving at over 120,000km/h (75,000mph) towards the red planet.
The Hope probe’s landing will mark a historic feat for the UAE. Once it makes its landing, which is expected within next six hours, the Hope probe will provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers, helping unravel some mysteries surrounding the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year.
Before it makes its landing here are five things you need to know about this mission:
1. The UAE’s Hope mission is the first of three missions to arrive at the Red Planet this month. Following the Hope mission, China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter will also try to enter into the Mars orbit, while America’s Perseverance Mission will most likely land on February 18, 2021 with another big rover.
2. The Hope spacecraft comes with the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS). According to the Hope mission website,the instrument is an interferometric thermal infrared spectrometer that will give scientists a better understanding of the energy balance in the Martian climate by finding out the state of the lower Martian atmosphere and the processes that are driving the global circulation.
3. Hope Probe is expected to collect more than one terabyte of new data on Mars, which will be shared with more than 200 academic and scientific institutions around the world for free.
4. The UAE mission to Mars was built by a team of 150 Emirati engineers, who worked in collaboration with American engineers and scientists from the Arizona State University, the University of Colorado and the University of California, Berkeley. The total expenditure on building the spacecraft was around $200 million or Dh735.6 million. However, it is quite cheap as compared to other similar programmes, like NASA’s Perseverance, which costs around $2.7 billion.
5. The Hope mission weighs around 1,500 kilograms when fuelled up and its cubical structure is made from aluminum with a composite face-sheet. The structure is 2.37 metres wide and 2.9 metres long.It has two solar panel wings affixed to the top platform that will provide 600 watts to charge batteries of the spacecraft, which has a 1.85 meter long antenna.