The United Arab Emirates’ historic first-ever mission to Mars is underway, after a successful lift-off in Japan, beginning a seven-month journey to the Red Planet.
Mission named ‘Hope‘ blasted atop on a Japanese Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2-A rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on Sunday, July 19 at 5:58 p.m. Eastern Time. About an hour after the launch spacecraft separated from the upper stage of the rocket and began its journey to Mars.
The 2 million dollar mission is also known as Emirates Mars Mission, is the UAE’s first foray into interplanetary exploration.
The launch initially scheduled on July 14 was called off multiple times due to adverse weather. Hope scheduled arrival in February 2021, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation.
“Years of hard work and dedication have paid off in a big way,” Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, said following the launch. “The UAE’s first Mars spacecraft is now flying into space, well on its way to another planet.”
Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, the science lead on Hope, stated that the impact of this mission on her country would be the same as that on America when its people watched the Apollo 11 Moon landing 51 years ago.
Now that the spacecraft is launched, it is months of hard work and nervous waiting for the mission experts at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai, with several manoeuvres required along the way to Mars.
For a country like UAE with hardly any planetary science expertise, this was a steep challenge. By consulting with various other Mars scientists across the globe, mission experts believe that this will contribute internationally valuable science data.
Hope has three instruments onboard to carry out several different scientific goals. It will study oxygen and hydrogen in the Martian atmosphere, and help to find out how over the last few billion years, Mars lost its atmosphere.
Hope will act as a Martian weather satellite, providing updates on dust storms and ice clouds on Mars, monitoring the weather at different times of the day, and tracking seasonal changes.
Hope, science mission is scheduled to begin from May 2021, after checking out its instruments. It also has a camera on board, to take images of the Martian surface and return them to Earth.
The mission will last two Earth years, which is equivalent to one Martian year. However, it could last for up to four Earth years – or two Martian years – depending on how the spacecraft fares in its time at Mars.
The UAE spacecraft is one of three missions heading to Mars this month.
The US and China both have surface rovers in the late stages of preparation, wherein China has scheduled to launch its mission called ‘Tianwen-1’ on July 23. The mission will make China the first country to include an orbiter, and rover; along with lander aimed to deal questions about the Red Planet’s geology and environment.
Meanwhile, NASA’s Moon mission 2020 is headed to countdown on July 30. The Perseverance rover, is designed to land in an ancient Martian river delta. It will perform the most extensive search for life on Mars yet.
The mission was praised by many on Twitter
American mission, Perseverance, tweeted its congratulations to Hope: