The UAE's Hope Probe Mars Mission Successful Launch

A historic moment for the region is the Arab world's first interplanetary mission to Mars.

Krystien Meyers
July 20, 2020 2:28 PM

The nation successfully launched the Mars-bound Hope Probe early late last night, making it the Arab world's first interplanetary mission - only the first of three international missions to Mars this year.

The 200 million USD mission is set out to provide a picture of the Martian atmosphere and to study daily and seasonal changes on the planet. Sarah Al Amiri, the mission's science lead says the team is especially interested in a possible link between dust storms and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen -- the building blocks of water -- from the Martian atmosphere.

The Amal (Hope in Arabic) Probe was launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre just before 2:00 am (GMT +4). It took off aboard a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket heading towards the east, on a trajectory that takes it over the Pacific Ocean. An hour after the launch, the spacecraft (Hope Probe) separated from the launcher, and around six to eight minutes after separation, Hope Probe deployed its solar panels and averaged a speed of more than 75,000mph.

Omran Sharaf, project director of Emirates Mars Mission, said about an hour-and-a-half after the lift-off that the probe was sending signals.

Mr Sharaf said the Mars mission "sends a very strong message to the Arab youth that if the UAE is able to reach Mars in less than 50 years, they could do much more".

The journey to Mars will take seven months before the probe orbits the planet and sends back data.

The UAE, which has a population of around 9.4 million, announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched its National Space Programme three years later.

Hazza al Mansouri became the first Emirati in space when he flew to the International Space Station in September.

UAE has also put three Earth observation satellites out - two developed by South Korea and launched by Russia and the third was developed by the UAE and launched by Japan.

NASA tweeted its congratulations after Hope's successful launch, writing: "I wish you a successful journey and look forward to the sol when we are both exploring Mars ... I cannot wait to join you on the journey!"

"The data gathered by the probe will add a new dimension to the human knowledge," said Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Twitter. "This is our latest contribution to the world."