Mars Hope Probe
In a month from now, on July 15, at 12.51 a.m. UAE time, the Mars Hope Probe will set off on its journey to Mars, the red planet that has been the subject of curiosity for earthlings. The launch will take place from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre, via the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI H2A) platform. Following a journey of several months covering 60 million kilometres, the probe is expected to enter the Martian orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of the country’s formation.
The UAE Space Agency in Abu Dhabi is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai is “responsible for all the execution and supervision of all stages of design, development and launch of the Hope Probe”. This is the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, and hopes to capture key science data about Mars’ atmosphere. The mission, to be led by Emiratis, will make the UAE one of nine countries with space programmes to explore Mars.
On April 25, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, had tweeted that the Hope Probe was successfully transferred from the MBRSC to the launch site on Tanegashima Island in Japan, in an 83-hour operation under the supervision of Emirati engineers. The transfer of the probe from MBRSC to Al Maktoum International Airport took 12 hours via a special truck that included sensitive scientific equipment. Then the world’s largest cargo plane transported the probe from Dubai to Japan in an 11-hour journey. The probe weighs approximately 1500 kg, similar to a mid-size car.
According to the MBSRC, the EMM aims “to draw a clear and comprehensive picture of the Martian climate, which will give scientists deeper insights into the past and future of our own planet as well as the potential for humans on Mars and on other distant planets”. Among other things, it will reveal the causes of Mars’ surface corrosion, observe weather phenomena such as dust storms, and create the first global picture of how the Martian atmosphere changes during the day and between seasons.
The MBSRC also has a Mars 2117 vision to build a human colony in Mars. In September 2019, as part of the UAE Astronaut Programme, Hazza Al Mansoori became the first Emirati astronaut in space when he was sent to the International Space Station on a scientific mission.