Hope Probe is 100 million kilometres away; completes 20% of its journey

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Hope Probe Image
Hope Probe is expected to enter Mars in February 2021.

His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice president, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced that one month after its groundbreaking lift-off from Japan, the Hope Probe, has traveled a fifth of its journey to the Red Planet.

After its successful lift-off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on July 20, 2020, the Hope Probe, which is the first Arab world expedition to another planet, has completed 20 percent of its 493 million-kilometre journey to the Red Planet so far.

The 100-million-km milestone follows the successful completion of the probe’s first TCM trajectory correction maneuver that marked the firing of its six Delta-V thrusters.

A number of other trajectory control maneuvers will be performed by the probe to meet its scheduled Mars Orbit Insertion, MOI, in less than 170 days in February 2021, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the UAE.

The Hope Probe will have the first truly global view of the Martian atmosphere as it orbits the Red Planet for a complete 687-day Martian year.

The probe will offer answers to long-standing questions about the Red Planet, since it will be the first to research the Martian atmosphere throughout the daily and seasonal cycles. It will study the weather patterns in Mars, such as the huge dust storms known to engulf the Red Planet, in contrast to the earth’s brief and localized dust storms.

Exploring the similarities between today’s Martian environment and the Red Planet’s ancient climate will provide greater insights into the Earth’s history and future and life prospects on Mars and other far-off planets.

Despite the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Emirates Mars mission team has achieved success in ensuring that the launch of the Hope Probe was on schedule. The team had rapidly updated execution plans, thus adhering to the required logistical and technical guidelines ahead of the historic launch from Japan on July 20th, 2020.

The Emirates Mars Mission team, composed of 200 Emirati engineers and specialists, had designed the orbiter in half the time and budget of traditional missions in six years.

The team of experts are monitoring the journey of the Mars orbiter at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center ground station located in Al Khawaneej. The team supervises the control processes of the probe and collects signals and data from it.

The Mars mission is part of the commitment of the UAE to the efforts of global space exploration, which adds a new dimension to human understanding.

Once it enters the orbit of the Red Planet, it will send back more than 1,000 gigabytes of new Mars data to be shared free across the world.

The broader goal of the project includes encouraging young people worldwide to explore science-based fields and ignite their interest in technology, space engineering and applied sciences as the core pillars of the future knowledge-based economy.

The endeavor sets in motion an innovation culture and opens up new possibilities in the global labor market.

To date, the project has attracted 60,000 students to join its various educational programs, created 200 new technologies, and helped publish 51 research papers, and construct 66 parts of the UAE probe.