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Hope Probe

OUR CORRESPONDENT

One month after its historic lift-off from Japan, the Hope Probe, the Arab world’s first mission to another planet, has travelled one fifth of its journey to Mars.

This was announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who shared two images from Hope Probe’s star-tracking camera and tweeted, “The Hope Probe is officially 100 million km into its journey to the Red Planet. Mars, as demonstrated in the image captured by the Probe’s Star Tracker, is ahead of us, leaving Saturn and Jupiter behind. The Hope Probe is expected to arrive to Mars in February 2021.”

“In less than 170 days, we will celebrate the probe’s entry into the Red Planet’s orbit. It will be a path-breaking achievement in the history of global Mars missions.”

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He noted, “The Emirates Mars Mission will create a giant leap in the country’s space technologies and open new horizons towards other space missions. The next phase requires investments in science for the benefit of mankind. We need young people to lead us towards further scientific breakthroughs.”

The Hope Probe has so far travelled 20 per cent of its 493-million-km journey to Mars since its successful lift-off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on July 20, 2020.

The 100-million-km milestone comes after the probe’s successful completion of its first trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM) that marked the firing of its six Delta-V thrusters. The probe will perform many more TCMs to reach its scheduled Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) in less than 170 days in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

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Currently travelling at a speed ranging between 110,400 km/h to 122,400km/h, the Hope Probe has already travelled fifth of its journey, equivalent to 130 trips from the Earth to the moon. The probe will automatically reduce its speed to 18,000 km/h as it gets closer to Mars.

This phase of the probe’s journey marks the testing of the three advanced science instruments mounted on the probe that work simultaneously to capture complete data from Mars. The first is an infrared spectrometer to measure the lower atmosphere and analyse the temperature structure. The second is a high-resolution exploration imager that will provide information about ozone levels and depth of water ice in the atmosphere, while the third, an ultraviolet spectrometre, is set to measure oxygen and hydrogen levels.

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The Hope Probe will provide the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere as it orbits the Red Planet throughout one full Martian year of 687 days.

Once it enters the Red Planet’s orbit, the Probe will send back more than 1,000 gigabytes of new Mars data to be shared with over 200 research centres for free across the world. The mission’s wider objective involves inspiring youth across the world to pursue science-based fields. So far, the mission has attracted 60,000 students to join its diverse educational programmes, developed 200 new technologies and helped publish 51 research papers and build 66 parts of the probe in the UAE.