UAE’s Hope Mission to Be First of Three to Arrive at Mars

Artist’s impression of the Hope spaceship in orbit around Mars Dubai Government Media Office

It’s going to be a busy month for Mars enthusiasts, with not one, not two, but three separate missions, all of which will arrive on the red planet in February. The first to arrive will be the UAE’s Hope mission, due to enter Mars orbit on Tuesday, February 9th, to collect data on atmospheric conditions on the planet.

If the arrival is successful, the UAE, along with the US, India, Russia and the European Space Agency, will only be the fifth nation to successfully send a mission to Mars. A sixth nation, China, with its Tianwen-1 mission is expected to add to this list this month. NASA’s Perseverance rover will follow suit later in the month.

Hope is also the first interplanetary mission by an Arab nation. However, missions to Mars are extremely challenging, as around half of all missions there fail. So there is a great challenge ahead of Hope to get safely into orbit.

“This is a well-rehearsed, designed and tested maneuver,” said Sarah Al Amiri, UAE minister of state for advanced technology and chair of the UAE Space Agency, during a webinar reported by Space News. “But we never used our engines continuously for 27 minutes. We’ll burn half of our fuel. “She described her mix of emotions as the mission neared the planet as” comfortable and uncomfortable, concerned and not concerned “.

To get into orbit around Mars, the spaceship must step on the brakes by firing its engines backwards to reduce its speed from 75,000 mph to about 11,000 mph. It is this maneuver that uses a significant amount of fuel and will hopefully allow the vehicle to be caught by Mars’ gravity and put into orbit.

In orbit, Hope will observe the Martian atmosphere, particularly the upper and lower atmospheres and the interaction between the two over the seasons. Previous missions that examined the atmosphere generally only looked around in a shorter timeframe. So this should be an opportunity to collect data on how the atmosphere changes throughout the year.

It will also study atmospheric loss – the process by which Mars loses its atmosphere.

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