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Hope Probe Reaches Martian Orbit

The United Arab Emirates have reached a milestone for Arab space science. The Emirates Mars Mission (Hope Probe) reached the Red Planet yesterday at 19:30 GMT, where it will follow an elliptical orbit. It will take the probe as close as 1,000 km to the surface and as far as 49,380 km away! The Hope mission also hopes to become the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.

Hope is a particularly poignant mission, marking the first mission to Mars by a West Asian, Arab or Muslim-majority country. It was announced by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2014. The mission hopes to expand opportunities for Emirati engineers and contribute to a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.

The EMM team. Credit: UAE Space Agency

Hope Probe Objectives

The Hope probe has 3 main objectives. They are to:

  • Understand climate dynamics and the global weather map through characterizing the lower atmosphere of Mars.
  • Explain how the weather changes the escape of hydrogen and oxygen through correlating the lower atmosphere conditions with the upper atmosphere.
  • Understand the structure and variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere, as well as identifying why Mars is losing them into space.

Essentially, the probe will act as a weather satellite. It will monitor both the weather changes and the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere. It is accepted that Mars used to be warmer and contained liquid water. Now, the surface has become dry and dusty. Hope aims to fill in the gaps within our knowledge of Mars’ climate history and shed some light on how today’s Martian atmosphere came to be.

Artist’s impression. Credit: UAE Space Agency

With an orbital period of 55 hours, the Hope probe is able to monitor the weather at different times of the day. This is something that most probes cannot do, as they orbit at a single local time. The probe contains 3 instruments:

  • (EXI) Emirates eXploration Imager
  • (EMIRS) Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer
  • (EMUS) Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer

Through each of these instruments, Hope is able to image Mars with in different wavelengths of light. EMIRS also measures the temperature of the surface and lower atmosphere. Plus, EMUS can measure the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen!

There’s sure to be exciting discoveries made from the Hope probe as it continues it’s journey!

Sources: Emirates Mars Mission, Wikipedia