UAE successfully launched its first Mars mission

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The FINANCIAL — The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars. Spacecraft, called al-Amal or “Hope” was designed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in the UAE. The Emirates Mars Mission will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. The U.S. and China are also launching their own Mars missions — expected to reach the planet’s orbit around the same time as the Hope probe. 

The United Arab Emirates successfully launched its Mars-bound Hope Probe on Sunday, marking the the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission — and the first of three international missions to the Red Planet this summer. The Hope Probe took off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, after a delay last week due to bad weather. The solid rocket booster successfully separated from the launch vehicle, and the probe has established two-way communication with the ground segment in Dubai, CNN reported.

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) ​is the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) ​first mission to Mars. EMM is designed to ​orbit Mars and study the dynamics in ​the Martian atmosphere on a global scale, and on both diurnal and seasonal timescales.

Using three scientific instruments on board of the spacecraft, EMM will provide a set of measurements fundamental to an improved understanding of ​circulation and weather in the Martian lower and middle atmosphere. Combining such data with the monitoring of the upper layers of the atmosphere, EMM measurements will reveal the mechanisms behind the upward transport of energy and particles, and the subsequent escape of atmospheric particles from the gravity of Mars.

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The Emirates Mars Mission “Hope Probe” will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers when it reaches the red planet’s orbit in 2021. It will help answer key questions about the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year.

The Hope Probe will study the weather system of Mars, monitoring for the first-time weather changes throughout the day, across the planet, during all seasons. Simultaneously, Hope Probe will monitor the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper portions of Mars’ atmosphere (the exosphere). Hope Probe will also focus on better understanding the link between weather changes in Mars’ lower atmosphere, with loss of hydrogen and oxygen from the upper layers of the atmosphere. 

The Hope probe, a $200 million project called “Al Amal” in Arabic, is scheduled to reach Mars’ orbit in February 2021 and will spend one Mars year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — studying and gathering data on the red planet’s atmosphere. The year 2021 is also significant: it will mark 50 years of the UAE’s existence. The U.S. and China are also launching their own Mars missions — expected to reach the planet’s orbit around the same time as the Hope probe — this summer, because of a specific time window that occurs once every two years where Mars and Earth are closest together, according to CNBC.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover twitted on Twitter: “Congratulations on your launch! I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars.”

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NASA is targeting 7:50 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, for the launch of its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is approximately two hours, with a launch opportunity every five minutes.

The mission – designed to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet – will use the robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms) and is the size of a small car, to collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

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