United Arab Emirates Successfully Launched HOPE Mission To Mars

United Arab Emirates Successfully Launched HOPE Mission To Mars

UAE launched HOPE mission to Mars from Japan space centre.

The United Arab Emirates’ first interplanetary mission successfully took faraway from the southern tip of Japan, sending up a car-sized probe bound for the earth Mars. The launch marks the start of the country’s most ambitious space project yet, aimed toward studying the weather on Mars because it evolves throughout the planet’s year.

The spacecraft, called HOPE, took off on top of a Japanese H-IIA rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 6:58 AM at the launch site. The probe will now spend the next seven months travelling through deep space, periodically correcting its course with a series of engine burns. Then sometime in February of 2021, it’ll attempt to put itself into an elongated orbit around Mars, where it will analyze the climate and atmosphere throughout each Martian day.

For the United Arab Emirates, the timing of this Mars launch was absolutely critical. The UAE government conceived of this project in 2014 to inspire young teens. To ensure that Hope is in orbit by the anniversary, the team behind the spacecraft had to launch this summer, during a little window when Earth and Mars come closest together during their orbits around the Sun. This planetary alignment happens once every 26 months, therefore the UAE team had to launch this year to satisfy the 2021 deadline.

So far the launch seems to possess been a smooth one. For a couple of minutes after the spacecraft deployed from the rocket, engineers feared that the vehicle hadn’t opened one among its two solar panels. The mission team noted that they were in communication with the spacecraft which Hope seemed to be in fine condition. The engineers will still analyze data coming from the spacecraft and supply updates on the health of Hope within the coming hours.

But some in the UAE are already celebrating. “Years of diligence and dedication have paid off during a big way,” Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to us, said during a live stream following the launch. “Thanks to the mission team efforts, the UAE’s first spacecraft, which six years ago was just an idea, just a thought, is now flying into space well on its way to another planet. This is a huge accomplishment. But it’s just the beginning.”

United Arab Emirates Successfully Launched HOPE Mission To Mars
Image From: thenational.ae

Getting to now proved to be a very challenging process for the UAE, which only had experience launching Earth-observing satellites up so far. The engineers and scientists had just 6 years to get the probe ready for launch this year 2020, and their government tasked them with building the spacecraft themselves not buying it within a set budget of $200 million for development and launch.

“The government was very clear to us about it: they wanted us to return up with a replacement model of executing such missions and delivering such missions,” Omran Sharaf, the project manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, said during a news conference before the launch. “So they didn’t want something with an enormous, big budget. They wanted something to be delivered quick, fast, and something that we will share with the remainder of the planet, about how they will approach missions.”

The team behind the mission decided they ultimately didn’t want to travel it alone. They partnered with various academic institutions within us, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, Arizona State University, and therefore the University of California, Berkeley, all of which had experience designing instruments or equipment for region probes before. The partnership allowed the UAE team to create upon known spacecraft designs and to utilize existing testing infrastructure, also as gain knowledge from experienced aerospace engineers.

Today’s launch may be a big win for the UAE and this new model for spacecraft development — but there’s still extended thanks to going before the country’s Mars mission is declared a success. In about a month, the engineers will do the first manoeuvre to correct Hope’s path to Mars. The vehicle will burn its onboard thrusters, slightly nudging the probe because it makes its way through space. A series of these manoeuvres are needed to make sure Hope reaches the right location at Mars upon arrival. “It’s a really small target,” Pete Withnell, the program manager for the mission at the University Colorado Boulder, said during a press call before the launch. “It’s equivalent to an archer hitting a two-millimetre target, one kilometre away. So this is often not for the faint of heart.”

And the biggest test of all will is available February when Hope must conduct a 30-minute burn of its thrusters to insert itself into orbit around Mars. The manoeuvre is supposed to slow the spacecraft down from quite 75,000 miles an hour (121,000 km an hour) to quite 11,000 miles an hour (18,000 km an hour). The spacecraft will need to do that all on its own, without input from Earth. At that time, it'll take too long to urge a sign to Mars in time to form any corrections, therefore the burn must be completely autonomous.

If all goes well, the UAE’s launch should be the primary of three missions to Mars that launch within internet month. Next up will likely be China, which is hoping to launch a Martian orbiter, a lander, and a rover to Mars around July 23rd. After that is NASA, which is launching its Perseverance rover, designed to seem for signs of past life and obtain samples which will potentially be returned to Earth in the next decade for study. All these groups are racing to launch while the planets are aligned, and time is running bent get all of them off the bottom.

Reference: The Verge