The probe carried the dreams of millions of Emiratis, Arabs and expatriates in the UAE. The wait is now finally worth as the UAE made history on Tuesday 9th Feb 2020, the United Arab Emirates just became the fifth nation to successfully send a spacecraft to Mars when its robotic probe, named Hope, began orbiting the red planet.

The Emirates Mars Mission “Hope Probe” will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. The mission was initiated six years ago to come to fruition at the time of the UAE’s golden jubilee (The federation was founded on 2 December 1971). Having only recently started (2009) flying satellites at Earth, the nation didn’t have the full skill set to mount an interplanetary mission.

What will the probe study?

The Hope probe is expected to provide the first-ever complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. It will do this by monitoring weather changes throughout the day during all seasons — something no other mission to the Red Planet has done to date.

One example of weather phenomena in Mars that the UAE hopes to study are the famous, massive dust storms that have been known to engulf the Red Planet — as compared to the short and localized dust storms on earth.

It will also focus on better understanding the link between weather changes in Mars’ lower atmosphere, with the loss of hydrogen and oxygen from the upper layers of the atmosphere.

The probe, for the first time, will study the link between weather change and atmospheric loss, a process that may have caused the Red Planet’s surface corrosion and the loss of its upper atmosphere.

Exploring connections between today’s Martian weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet will give deeper insights into the past and future of Earth and the potential of life on Mars and other distant planets.

This plays into the story of why the planet is now missing most of the water it clearly had early in its history. However, the goal is to study how the different layers of the atmosphere interact with one another and how those interactions change depending on the time of day and year.

It will take about 55 hours to complete one orbit. Scientists will be able to learn the details about atmospheric changes in Mars and this study is expected to continue for one Martian year (687 Earth days).

Objectives of the Mission:

  • Integrate the global Mars science community on specific and vital questions.
  • Examine why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere to space. Track the behavior and escape of oxygen and hydrogen as well as the building blocks of water.
  • Study the connection between the upper and lower levels of the Martian atmosphere.
  • Create a first global picture of how the Martian atmosphere alters through the course of a day and between different seasons.    
  • Observe various weather phenomena such as temperature patterns and dust storms. Understand how the atmosphere interacts with the Mars topography.
  • Examine and uncover the causes of surface corrosion.
  • Look for the connection between the real climate of Mars and todays’ weather. 

The excitement across the nation is palpable. Buildings are being lit up in red to celebrate the success of the mission. It is a great inspiration to the youth and Arab youth in general to take up STEM subjects in school and at higher education levels.

The successful arrival of the UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars has made us the world’s first Arab and Islamic country to reach Mars!

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