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The Arab’s First Mars Mission: 2021

 In an infinite world filled with mysteries and wonders, we find solace in taking the necessary steps that lead to solving them. With the aid of science and hard work, the world is taking larger steps towards unraveling these mysteries. Thus, the United Arab Emirates is now making history as the first Arab country to ever reach the red planet. Furthermore, the Emirates Mars mission has reached Mars’ orbit on 1/10/2021, at 7:42 p.m. UAE time.

The Emirates Mars Mission

First launched on July 20, 2020, at 1:58 AM (UAE time), the Emirates Mars Mission began in Tanegashima island in Japan. Thus, Al-Amal probe, also known as the hope probe, started its journey to the red planet. Seven months later, on Tuesday, the probe sent back a signal confirming that it has reached the designated orbit. The signal indicates that the mission succeeded in its most critical phase, making UAE the fifth country to reach Mars. 

“Mars orbit insertion was the most critical and dangerous part of our journey to Mars, exposing the Hope probe to stresses and pressures it has never before faced,” said Omran Sharaf, the Hope mission’s project director at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

“With this enormous milestone achieved, we are now preparing to transition to our science orbit and commence science data gathering.”

History of the Mars Mission

The mission’s success in reaching the red planet’s orbit is the fruition of six years filled with hard work. Normally, it takes almost a decade to design and plan such a project. However, with almost 200 million USD funding and the diligent efforts of its team, the UAE is now taking huge steps toward achieving its vision. 

“The first of our challenges was designing a mission to another planet for the very first time,” said Sarah al-Amiri, minister of state for advanced technology and chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency.

“That included mobilizing our team who has been working on Earth observation satellites, but then filling in and bridging the gaps, because spacecraft that orbit Earth is slightly different from spacecraft that go towards other planets,” she said. 

“The challenges were technical in nature, we needed to ensure that the spacecraft is highly reliable for its journey, it’s able to think for itself, that the components within the spacecraft can operate for the duration of the entire mission,” she added.

Therefore, the success of the mission isn’t only a historic development and a fulfillment of the dreams of 200 engineers and scientists working behind the scenes, but also a mesmerizing milestone for the entire Gulf and Arab countries. 

The Mission’s Objectives

The EMM’s main goal is to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere, including its dimensional layers. Therefore, over the span of one martian year, the team will focus on understanding the relationship between Mar’s atmosphere and the loss of vital life-related gases, such as hydrogen and oxygen. In doing so, the mission will formulate a better data-backed understanding of the martian climate dynamics and the global weather map. 

Moreover, they plan on creating a theory that explains the relationship between the weather changes and the loss of Hydrogen and Oxygen via the correlation of the lower atmosphere conditions and the upper atmosphere. Additionally, the plans hope to shep the light on 

the structure and variability of Hydrogen and Oxygen in the upper atmosphere. This will then help in further understanding the reason behind the gasses’ loss.

The Next Step

Currently, the hope probe is orbiting in an initial ellipse around Mars. At the nearest point, the orbit is 1,000km away from the planet. However, the farthest point is almost 50,000km away. Throughout the next few weeks, the journey will decrease into a 55-hour, 22,000km-by-43,000km orbit. 

Furthermore, unlike any of the previous missions, Hope’s path depends on the long-distance between the satellites and the red planet. With the aim of tracing energy movements through the martian atmosphere, the probe is swimming in unknown waters.

Therefore, its main concern at the moment is the dust’s movement. The martian dust is observed to turn into full storms that envelop the whole planet. Dust plays a hugely important role in the Martian atmosphere. There are a few places on Earth where the atmosphere can be that dusty, but they’re localized and maybe for short times,” explained Prof David Brain, a University of Colorado at Boulder planetary expert who is working with the UAE team.

“Dust absorbs a lot of energy; it can become very warm and radiate energy. And so when you’re talking about energy transport, dust is a much larger part of the big picture at Mars.”

References:

Amos, J. (2021, February 9). Emirates Mars Mission: Hope spacecraft enters orbit. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-55998848Arab world basks in the glory of UAE Mars mission triumph. (2021, February 10). Arab News. https://www.arabnews.com/node/1806701/middle-eastHome. (n.d.). Emirates Mars Mission. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://www.emiratesmarsmission.ae/Strickland, A. C. (2021, February 9). The UAE’s Hope Probe has successfully entered orbit around Mars. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/09/world/uae-hope-probe-mars-mission-orbit-scn-trnd/index.htmlTurak, N. (2021, February 10). United Arab Emirates becomes the first Arab country to reach Mars. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/09/mars-probe-uae-attempts-to-become-first-arab-country-to-reach-mars-with-hope-probe.html