Emirates Mars Mission to begin collecting science data soon

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Emirates Hope Probe
Representational Image

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first Arab interplanetary venture, announced that it has completed spacecraft and instrument exercises intended to practice observations and is now ready to begin collecting science data.

The two-year science mission kicked off on May 23rd, intending to provide the first complete image of Mars’ lower and upper atmospheres throughout the day, night, and seasons of a full Martian year.

Mr. Omran Sharaf, Project Director of EMM remarked that “following a successful cruise to Mars, a near-perfect Mars Orbit Insertion maneuver and our transition from Hope’s capture orbit to our science orbit, we have completed our commissioning, calibration and testing phase. I am delighted to be able to report that the Mars Hope probe is perfectly positioned to commence its two-year science mission.”

The probe’s three instruments were activated on April 10th, followed by a period of commissioning and testing. The instruments and spacecraft are delivering results that far beyond expectations.

EMUS

The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) instrument has gathered over 14,000 spectral-spatial pictures of the atmosphere since the Hope probe reached orbit around Mars, equal to 1.6 million individual spectra. The spacecraft and instrument work perfectly in tandem, tracking the EMUS field of view across specified areas of interest, as demonstrated by this initial execution of four different observation types.

EXI

Since its switch to science orbit in early April, the Hope probe’s Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI) has taken over 500 photographs of Mars, and it will now focus on mapping water ice clouds in the atmosphere as Mars enters its ‘cloudy season’. A belt of clouds forms near the equator throughout spring and summer in the Martian northern hemisphere. Because of its ability to examine the changing dynamics of the atmosphere through daily and seasonal cycles, Hope will have a unique perspective on these clouds.

EMIRS

Since Hope’s arrival on Mars, the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) has been collecting science demonstration data, refining instrument calibration, and routinely processing data. Since landing on Mars, almost 130,000 spectra have been collected. More than 40 science demonstration observations have been acquired, covering a large amount of the planned local time coverage and all observation scenarios.

On sub-seasonal timeframes, EMIRS will derive surface temperatures, atmospheric temperature profiles, column integrated water ice and dust opacities, and water vapor abundance over the whole Martian day. These findings, when combined with those of EXI and EMUS, will provide a unique perspective on Martian weather and its connections to atmospheric escape mechanisms.

Hope is on track to complete its planned 20,000-43,000 km elliptical science orbit with a 25-degree inclination to Mars. Every 55 hours, the probe will complete one orbit around the planet, and every nine days, it will capture a full sample of planetary data.

EMM and the Hope probe are the results of a knowledge transfer and development effort that began in 2006 and saw Emirati engineers collaborate with international partners to improve the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering, and manufacturing capabilities.

The EMM will study the Martian atmosphere, including the relationship between the upper and lower layers, and will provide scientists with a holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at all hours of the day and throughout the seasons for the first time. The historic journey of the Hope Probe to Red Planet takes place during the UAE’s Golden Jubilee year.

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