UAE's Hope probe beams back its first picture of Mars
The United Arab Emirates’ first interplanetary mission has passed a major milestone, successfully placing a spacecraft in orbit around Mars and beaming back its first ever picture of the Red Planet. The Hope probe’s arrival marks an important step forward in the country’s efforts to explore space, which include sending a rover to the Moon and pursuing a vision of one day building a human colony on Mars.
The Hope probe was launched in July of 2020 and arrived at the Red Planet following a journey of almost 500 million km (310 million miles). This makes the UAE just the fifth nation to reach Mars, and after slipping into its orbit last Tuesday, the spacecraft fired up its multi-wavelength camera to grab some photographic evidence.
The 12-megapixel image was taken around 25,000 km (15,500 miles) above the surface of the planet, and represents the first instalment of more than 1 TB of data that the Hope probe will relay back to Earth. Along with the camera, the spacecraft is equipped with an infrared spectrometer and ultraviolet spectrometer, which it will use to study weather and the Martian atmosphere and eventually build the first complete picture of the different layers within it.
As part of this science phase of the mission, the probe will also gather the first ever planet-wide, 24x7 picture of Mars’ daily weather and atmospheric dynamics across the course of a full Martian year, or 687 Earth days. This is expected to take until April 2023, though the probe could potentially be used to gather data for another two years after that.
Also forming part of the UAE’s ambitious space exploration program is the Rashid Lunar Rover mission, which aims to make the country just the fourth nation to land on the Moon. Slated for launch in 2024, the mission is intended to probe the makeup of the lunar soil and thermal properties of the surface.
Both missions will inform the UAE’s Mars 2117 strategy, which involves a simulated Mars mission here on Earth and the overarching aim of establishing human colonies in Mars by 2117.
Source: Emirates News Agency