UAE makes history as the first Arab nation, and fifth in the world, to reach Mars
The UAE made history on 9 February as the first Arab nation, and the fifth in the world, to reach Mars after the Hope Probe successfully entered the red planet’s orbit at 7:42pm. The probe overcame the most critical part of its mission, the Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) that involved reversing and firing its six Delta V thrusters to rapidly reduce its speed from 121,000 km/h to 18,000 km/h. During the 27-minute critical phase, the contact kept with the probe was kept to a minimum. Now that it has entered the Martian orbit, the probe will transition to its scientific phase– transmitting its first image of Mars back to Earth within a week.
Hailing the historic breakthrough, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, “This historic achievement would not have been possible without the persistence and determination to implement the idea that emerged at the end of 2013 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who followed it up closely until its success.”
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “The Hope probe’s historic space journey to Mars is a significant Arab and Emirati achievement.” He noted that “the Emirates Mars Mission drafts a new chapter in the UAE’s record of achievements in the space science sector and supports the efforts of our country to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy driven by advanced technologies.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces noted that the “Emirates Mars Mission paves the way for the next 50 years of sustainable scientific development in the UAE. The human capital is the true wealth of our nation. Investing in our people forms the main pillar of all our development strategies and policies.”
On its first day in Mars, the team restored communication with the probe to ensure its systems remained intact after the dangerous phase it had just passed. For the next 3-4 weeks, daily contact will be scheduled between the probe and the team back on Earth, enabling a quick turn-around of command sequence uploads and telemetry receipt. The probe will capture its first picture of Mars in the first week of its arrival.
The core mission of the Hope Probe will involve capturing more than 1,000GB of new data over one Martian year (687 Earth days), which will be shared with 200 scientific and educational institutions around the world. The mission can be extended for another two years, to provide the first-ever complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.
Through closely studying the connection between current Martian weather and the climate of the Red Planet, scientists will gain deeper insights into the past and future of the Earth as well as the potential for human life on Mars and other planetary objects.