UAE proudly announced on 9th February that its Hope (Al Amal) probe has entered the orbit of Mars. It launched this probe in July 2020 from Japan, which was the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. It has become the 5th nation to do so, after the US, the Soviet Union, Europe, and India. The objective of the UAE Mars mission is to deliver a comprehensive understanding of the Martian atmosphere and eventually build a human settlement by 2121.
The government of UAE also declared this probe as a symbol of hope, pride, peace, and inspiration for the Arab world, which is often engulfed in crises like economic instability, and sectarian violence. The unmanned mission involves the probe revolving around the planet while scientist makes their discoveries from the ground.
During this process, the probe will send high-quality images of the red planet’s surface. Scientists will observe how neutral atoms of hydrogen and oxygen leak into space. These atoms are the remnants of water from billions of years ago when the red planet was filled with 36% water. Hope probe is currently running an initial orbit around Mars within a distance of 1000km to 50,000km. Over the course of the coming weeks, the distance will reduce and stay between 22,000 km to 43,000km. Reportedly, the mission will last for 687 days, which is a period equivalent to one year on Mars.
UAE Mars Mission Wins Applaud For Political Leaders
The international community has commended the Emirati effort to reduce financial dependency on the oil industry and improve global standing. The gulf nation built the space agency in 2014 and sent its first astronaut to International Space Station in 2019. The rapid transition into space technologies has brought attention to the current leadership of UAE, led by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. UAE Mars mission will contribute heavily towards developing strategies and technologies to finally take humans to the red planet. UAE has come a long way since its independence from the British. It is farther ahead from many other Arab nations in terms of development and growth, for which people have credited the leadership.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson congratulated UAE to take part in the study of why the atmosphere on Mars has stopped sustaining water. He is hoping that humans can learn valuable lessons from the result of this research.
The Team Behind The Project
A major fact for the UAE to celebrate this glorious moment is its women, who played a huge role in scientific research related to this space project. Reportedly, 80% of the research team consisted of women. They have always paved the way for each other based on merit and contributed to the design and development of this mission.
The team said that it is ready and willing to compete with the rest of the world. Reportedly, two more countries have launched their own missions to Mars.
Global Space Race To Mars
Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are not the only ones competing in a space race. The US and China are also following UAE to Mars, which means that there are going to be three separate Mars missions. UAE only brought an image taking probe while the other two giants are coming guns blazing with their robots and satellites.
China is coming with Tianwen-1 right after Emirati Hope took its position around the red planet. Chinese probe will survey the atmosphere for at least one month before beginning the main part of the mission in May. China will soft-land a rover onto the large basin in the Utopia Planitia region, which usually serves as a landing zone for robots. China claims that Tianwen-1 will be able to collect samples of rock and soil in the future.
Out of all three countries, the US holds the most experience in space travel. It is bringing the Mars 2020 perseverance rover along with the first helicopter called Ingenuity. The US has built this helicopter especially for a flight on the red planet. It will be the first craft to test spaceflight on another planet, where the atmosphere is drastically thinner than Earth. The US will be the last to arrive on Mars and land its rover at Jezero Crater by February 18th. NASA claimed that Perseverance is the largest and most sophisticated robot ever sent to Mars. A huge space crane will be used to land the rover properly on all 6 wheels.
These three missions happened at a time when the distance between Mars and Earth is relatively less than usual. Normally, it takes around 9 months to reach Mars, but for these missions, it only took 7.