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By - Neelam Motwani

Historic Launch of Hope Probe: What to expect next in UAE Mars Mission?

The world is buzzing about the successful launch of the United Arab Emirates' Mars-bound Hope Probe Mission on 20 Jul 2020. This launch made history marking first-ever interplanetary mission by the Arab world. 

 

The UAE Hope Probe took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan and established two-way communication with the back-end system team in Dubai, UAE. The UAE Hope Probe is estimated to reach the surface orbit of Mars by 2021 coinciding with 50th anniversary of UAE’s formation. 

 

What to Expect in This Mission Now?

 

After a successful Hope Probe launch, when the probe will finally start orbiting around Mars, it will study the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere. As a matter of fact, Hope Probe Mars Mission of UAE is a first true weather satellite to serve the entire information and clear view of the Mars’ environment. This mission will serve answers to keen questions like, “Why Red Planet lets out Oxygen and Hydrogen into the space?”

 

This probe will monitor the weather of Mars throughout the day in every season, all across the planet. It will also focus on revealing causes of Martian surface corrosion that will be answered by closely monitoring the temperature change, dust and wind storm and other such phenomena. 

 

Why is UAE Studying Dynamics of Mars? 

 

UAE Hope Probe is expected to gather new data of more than 1000 GB on Mars, which will then be shared among 200 scientific institutions around the world. Scientists of UAE will gather and understand deeper insights related to past and future of planet Earth and space, as a whole. UAE, in specific, holds a keen interest to understand the potential of human settlement on a planet like Mars. 

 

This Hope Probe mission will provide a clear understanding of why and how Red Planet lost some of its atmospheric gases into space. The curiosity to understand the atmosphere change in Mars, in fact, gained eyes of people on planet Earth when the evidence suggested that Mars was a quite warmer and humid world with liquid water on the surface. 

 

Speaking of the United Arab Emirates, leaders of the country are keen to improve and build Emirati capabilities under interplanetary exploration field by establishing a position as a beacon of progress in their region. The fact is not hidden that people and leaders of UAE are challenging the quality of life by pushing the limits to make new discoveries and encouraging young and future generations to pursue space science and explore the great beyond. 

 

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and second-smallest planet in the solar system. Mars is, in fact, most explored planet after Earth. Many generations have been curious about outer space and what life on Mars be like.

 

Some questions that scientists have been exploring from decades are:

 

  • How has the Red Planet evolved from what it was originally?
  • Is Mars the next planet for human settlement?
  • What is the temperature history of Mars? 
  • Were there any creatures living in Mars before? 

 

Scientists are well aware of the harsh environmental changes of this planet. There are few places on Earth where one can witness the similar temperature that of Mars, such as Volcanoes in Hawaii, Death Valley in California, and Haughton Impact Crater in Canadian High Artic. 

 

How Long will This Mission be?

 

Mars is known to rotate on its axis and completes one rotation in 24.6 hours. Hope Probe will orbit the planet for one Martian year which is equal to 669.6 sols (Martian days), equivalent to about two Earth years. The science operations will begin in May 2021 for two years, with a possible extension time until 2025. 

 

How will UAE Hope Probe Study the Red Planet? 

 

Hope Probe UAE is going to study the atmosphere of Mars from a science orbit of 20,000 km periapsis and 43,000 km apoapsis. Periapsis is known as a point that is nearest to the body of the planet that is orbits. Apoapsis, on the other hand, is the highest point in the orbit. This process will be carried out with orbital inclination of 25 and an orbital period of 55 hours. 
Hope Probe is the only Mars spacecraft to have such an orbit that will examine the atmosphere for an entire Martian year. Following is the list of instruments mounted on Hope Probe that will work in sync to examine the temperature changes: 

 

Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI)

 

 

This device is a multiband camera that will click 12 Mega-Pixel resolution images of the planet. It will study the lower atmosphere of Mars by measuring the distribution of ozone, ice, and water in the atmosphere. The process will be successful by utilising the ultraviolet bands. 

 

Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) 

 

 

This instrument will examine the optical depth of ice cloud, water vapour and depth of dust in the Mars' atmosphere. It will almost examine the surface and lower temperature of Red Planet.  

 

Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS)

 

 

This instrument is going to study the upper atmosphere of Mars using far-ultraviolet wavelengths. The study will help in determining the distribution of gases like Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide in the thermosphere of Mars. This instrument will also examine the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen in Mars' exosphere layer. 

 

Speaking of Hope Probe mission, it is the latest and most ambitious step by the United Arab Emirates in the field of space. In the field of space, UAE has launched some of the satellites before in the year 2013 and 2009 in partnership with South Korea. 

 

UAE found its own space agency in the year 2014 and set ambitious space targets including human settlement and building a colony on Mars by 2117. Al Amal, in Arabic, was the original inspiration for UAE mars mission name, that has now transformed the HOPE into a historic reality. 

 

To Conclude

 

The leaders of UAE have spoken about their ambition and its space program as a catalyst to grow in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). With a successful launch of Mars Mission, the country has already marked its history with an extraordinary feat in the GCC region. 

 

While other countries took at least a decade time to develop its Mars mission, United Arab Emirates made the mission possible in just six years. No matter where the UAE Mars mission sheds lights in future, the launch in itself is a moment of pride for scientists and leaders of UAE.