UAE Mars mission ‘Hope Probe’ launches successfully

The probe is expected to reach Mars in February 2021 and will study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change.

A United Arab Emirates spacecraft has begun its journey to Mars with a blast off in Japan, in what is the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

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The launch of the spacecraft named Amal, or the ‘Hope Probe’, marks the start of the seven-month journey to the red planet.

The launch, initially planned for 15 July, had been delayed for five days due to bad weather. It instead launched 20 July at 21:58 GMT.

The probe carries three instruments and will study the upper atmosphere and monitor climate change while circling Mars for at least two years.

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“The successful launch of the Emirates Mars Mission HOPE Probe today – the first interplanetary mission undertaken by any Arab nation – is a key milestone in UAE’s history,” said Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, chairman of the UAE Space Agency.

“With this achievement, the UAE has become the youngest nation to successfully launch a mission to Mars within six years of project commencement.

“The success of HOPE Probe is a huge leap forward for the UAE’s ambitious space programme.”

The craft is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, the year the UAE celebrates 50 years since its formation.

UAE space program officials said several hours after take-off the probe was functioning as planned as it headed towards Mars.

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Two more Mars missions are set to launch this month. China will send an orbiter and rover later this week, and the NASA Perseverance rover is due to lift off 30 July.

Reader Q&A: Why do we never see video footage from Mars?

Asked by: Richard O’Neill, Glasgow

Video footage requires much higher data transmission rates than still images, and it can take several hours for NASA to receive just one high-resolution colour image from Mars.

Engineers are looking at switching from radio to infrared communication, because the much shorter wavelength offers far higher data rates. The next generation of Mars landers may then send back HD video imagery direct from the Red Planet.

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