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The HOPE Of UAE: First Interplanetary Mission Of Arab Country
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The HOPE Of UAE: First Interplanetary Mission Of Arab Country

● The mission’s accomplishment made the UAE the first Arab country to reach the Red Planet and the sixth worldwide.
● The mission Hope will explore the Red Planet (MARS) atmosphere.
● The year 2021 is especially important since it marks the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates’ establishment as a country.

As the first Arab country to reach Mars, the United Arab Emirates has achieved history. The Emirates Mars mission, codenamed Hope, arrived on the red planet at 7:42 p.m. UAE time on February 9, 2021, and transmitted a signal to Earth slightly over half an hour later. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre’s ground control staff exploded in applause.

This is a huge accomplishment because more than half of all Mars missions fail, experts put the chances of successfully entering Mars’ orbit at around 50%. The essential time frame was a scary and tense 27 minutes, during which the Hope probe had to rapidly slow down from 100,000 kilometres per hour (62,137 miles per hour) to 18,000 kilometres per hour (kmph) by firing its six thrusters for exactly 27 minutes. This burned up about half of its fuel, allowing it to be pulled into Mars’ orbit by its gravitational attraction. After then, there
was an 11-minute communication delay back to Earth while the scientists and engineers working on the project which included 200 Emiratis awaited the mission’s success with bated breath.

The operation had to be flawlessly completed, and the stakes were high: Earth’s closest approach to Mars happens just once every two years. Out of three Mars missions attempting to breach the planet’s orbit this year, NASA’s Perseverance rover & China’s Tianwen-1 mission both launched in July 2020 to take advantage of the time of closest approach between Earth and Mars. Despite attempts dating back to the 1960s, the UAE is just the second country to ever successfully enter Mars’ orbit on its first attempt. India is the only other country to have done so.

It Took Six Years In Creation

The Hope probe, dubbed Al-Amal in Arabic, was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Station on July 20 and has finally completed its trip to Earth’s neighbour. It will now spend a Martian year — 687 days on Earth -investigating and collecting data on the planet’s atmosphere. With the help of three highly specialised instruments developed by the Emirati team, it will be able to create the first full map of the Martian atmosphere, including a highly sophisticated camera to photograph and study the planet’s lower atmosphere, an ultraviolet spectrometer to detect the planet’s levels of carbon monoxide and oxygen, and an infrared spectrometer to measure Martian duality.

The UAE’s six-year endeavour has made the modest Gulf sheikhdom the world’s sixth country to reach Mars. According to Sarah al-Amiri, minister of state for advanced technology and the UAE Space Agency chairperson, these missions typically take at least ten years to plan and build. She further added, “Designing a mission to another planet for the first time was the first of our challenges.

This involved activating our team, which had been working on Earth observation satellites, but also filling in and bridging the gaps because spacecraft orbiting Earth differ differently from spacecraft orbiting other planets.” “The obstacles were technological in nature, we wanted to make sure the spacecraft was extremely dependable for its voyage, that it could think for itself, and that the spacecraft’s components could work for the duration of the mission,” she continued.

International Co-operation

The Emirates Mars Mission collaborated on the spacecraft’s construction with a team from the University of Colorado Boulder, drawing on knowledge from the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. However, the oil-rich Gulf state has spent years investing in space research and development, establishing its space agency in 2014 after launching satellites created in collaboration with South Korean partners in 2009 and 2013.

The UAE government has undertaken several programmes to develop the country’s scientific, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sector. It sees its expanding space programme as an essential component of that. It is also the first government to appoint an artificial intelligence minister and is significantly investing in its military sector.

According to Emirati authorities, the Mars project is helping to spark interest in science and space exploration among the country’s youth, allowing for growth in areas that will be critical in the post-oil future. Women, in particular, have played a key role in this evolution, according to authorities women comprised approximately 80% of the Emirati crew on the Mars expedition.

“This will be our driving force for the next five years, starting with this mission to guarantee that the UAE has a very well-established and internationally linked space sector,” Al-Amiri stated. The UAE space mission has long aimed to send a probe to Mars by its 50th anniversary, but by 2017, it had set even higher goals, including Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s command to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117.

HOPE

According to NASA, the Hope satellite had a total mass (including fuel) of 3,300 pounds (1,500 kilogrammes) upon launch. The probe is roughly the size and weight of a compact vehicle, measuring 7.78 feet (2.37 metres) wide and 9.51 feet (2.90 metres) tall. The spaceship will be propelled by four to six 120- newton Delta-V engines that use hydrazine, an inorganic and extremely volatile chemical.

In February 2021, the probe arrived in orbit around Mars after a seven-month journey into space. The spacecraft will explore the Red Planet for a full Martian year once its research work begins (687 Earth days, or about two years). If all goes well, the mission may be extended for another two years, bringing the spacecraft until 2025.

Hope will gather scientific data with the help of three cutting-edge technologies placed on the satellite:

● The Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI)- Is a satellite-based imaging system developed by the Emirates. This multiband camera will capture pictures with a spatial resolution of fewer than 5 miles at 12-megapixel resolution (8 kilometres). The camera will be able to photograph the Martian atmosphere in three visible bands and three ultraviolet bands, allowing the mission to assess the amount of dust, water ice, and ozone in the atmosphere.

● Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS)- The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre developed EMIRS in conjunction with Arizona State University to monitor the dust, ice clouds, water vapour, and temperature profile of the Martian atmosphere.

● The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS)– Is a spacecraft that can detect ultraviolet light on Mars. The thermosphere, the structure of the hydrogen and oxygen exospheres encircling the globe, and the
ultraviolet emissions of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere will all be measured by this spectrometer. It will also monitor changes in the exosphere as a function of season, solar inputs, and lower- atmosphere winds.

The Hope spacecraft, which was developed in partnership with the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of California, Berkeley, and Arizona State University, is a state-of-the-art weather satellite in many aspects. It will contribute to the resolution of several remaining concerns regarding Mars’ temperature and atmosphere.

The satellite mission’s major goals are as follows:

● Look for a link between today’s weather on Mars and the planet’s ancient environment. Significant geophysical data shows that Mars was once a considerably warmer and wetter environment with liquid water on its surface. Those previous circumstances may have been ideal for the evolution of life.

● Investigate the processes that have pushed oxygen and hydrogen from Mars’ atmosphere. The loss of the Martian atmosphere is thought to be the cause of Mars’ transformation into a frigid desert where water can
only exist as vapour or ice. Understanding what is pushing these critical components of the atmosphere away might help researchers better understand how the Martian atmosphere has changed through time, and how life on Mars may have perished.

● Investigate the links between Mars’ lower and higher atmospheres.

● Make a worldwide representation of how the Martian atmosphere changes over the day, season, and year. Temperature and climatic data for just a limited period of time on Mars are currently accessible. If the mission is successful, the data acquired by the Hope satellite will offer the first comprehensive glimpse of the Martian climate for several years.

What Does HOPE Means For UAE?

When UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced in July 2014 that the UAE will send a satellite to Mars, he stated that the launch would take place in July 2020, barely six years after his declaration. That period corresponds to the Earth-Mars alignment, which happens every two years. It also meant that the spacecraft will arrive on Mars in 2021, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Arab Emirates.

The Emirati government’s quest for space development includes elements of hope. The government also launched a programme aimed at establishing a livable settlement on Mars by the year 2117. In September of this year, the UAE sent its first Emirati astronaut into space. Former pilot Hazzaa Ali Almansoori spent eight days aboard the International Space Station, doing a variety of experiments and giving an Arabic tour of the station.

It may be difficult to envision today’s hyper-modern UAE 100 years ago when only a few scattered Bedouin tribes inhabited the wide expanse of harsh red and gold desert – a scene much unlike Mars itself.

Thank You!

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