The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday. The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere. This is historic since it is the first successful launching of an Arab mission to Mars.
Initially, the launch was due to take place on July 14 but has been delayed twice due to bad weather. The timing of the mission was of great importance to the UAE government. Their aim is to have the spacecraft in orbit on time for the Kingdom’s 50th anniversary in December 2021.
Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth. There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year.
The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million, according to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes. The data it gathers will be available for free for researchers around the world.
The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big space-faring nations.
The Kingdom is striving to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil. It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117.
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