UAE made history on 20 July 2020 as it launched the first Arab mission to Mars, and the first of three international missions to the Red Planet this summer. The Hope probe is the first of its kind to monitor climate change on Mars, as it will fully study the weather on the Red Planet.
After a delay last week due to bad weather, the Hope Probe (or Al Amal probe in Arabic) took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. The probe was launched on the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries "H2A-202" missile, and its journey to Mars will take about 7 months, covering an estimated distance of 493.5 million km at a speed of 121,000 km per hour. The probe uses stars tracking device to determine its location and direction.
The speed of the probe will slow down when it reaches Mars to 14,000 km per hour, then it will start orbiting Mars in an oval orbit, and it will take 55 hours to complete a full orbit around Mars.
"It's an honor to be part of the global efforts to explore deep space," tweeted the official Hope Mars Mission account after the launch. "The Hope Probe is the culmination of every single step that humans have taken throughout history to explore the unknown depths of space."
During its journey that will take a Martian year, or about two Earth years (687 days on Earth), the Hope Probe will monitor the climate changes in the lower atmosphere of the Red Planet throughout the day for the first time, and throughout the planet in all seasons, as well as the impact of climate changes on the escape of oxygen and hydrogen from The atmosphere of Mars, the erosion of the atmosphere of Mars, the movement of dust and water in the atmosphere of the planet.
The United Arab Emirates had entered the outer space exploration sector after the decree of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the country, to establish the Emirates Space Agency. Work has begun on a project to send the first Arab probe to Mars, and it was called the "Probe of Hope", making the UAE one of 9 countries that aspire to explore the planet.
Objectives of the mission aim at providing the first complete picture of the Martian atmosphere by attempting to understand climate dynamics and the global weather map through characterising the lower atmosphere of Mars. The missions attempts to explain how the weather changes the escape of Hydrogen and Oxygen through correlating the lower atmosphere conditions with the upper atmosphere. Finally, this mission will help understand the structure and variability of Hydrogen and Oxygen in the upper atmosphere, as well as identifying why Mars is losing them into space.
It is planned that the probe will reach Mars in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Arab Emirates.