Hope Mars Mission: Hope of a Nation and Many More
by Kaan ERTAN
On the 20th of July, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) successfully launched its first space mission “Al Amal”, or “Hope”, which will conduct research in the Martian orbit. This is the first space mission of the UAE and the first Arabian space mission to Mars. Therefore, it marks a milestone for both Emirati and Arabian space endeavors.
Even though this is a project of the UAE Space Agency, centered at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, multiple countries took part in its realization. The University of Colorado Boulder developed the spacecraft with the contributions of Arizona State University and the University of California Berkeley. The spacecraft was assembled at the University of Colorado. Later, it was launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan, on 20 July 2020. The rocket that was used to carry the spacecraft to the Martian orbit is a Japanese H-IIA rocket, built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The UAE has little experience of designing and manufacturing spacecraft, however, it attempted a mission that only the USA, Russia, Europe (ESA), and India have so far succeeded in. Emirati engineers who were supervised by American experts, have produced and launched a satellite probe in just six years.
Hope probe is expected to complete its journey of 493 million kilometers in about 200 days. Its arrival in February 2021, will also mark the 50th anniversary of the Emirati independence. The mission aims to diversify UAE’s economy from its traditional foundations such as oil, tourism, and finance; by developing the country’s scientific capability. Once proven that UAE has reliable and respected scientific institutions, it is hoped that the country will develop to be a hub for international high education for bright minds. The project aims to lead the young generation towards a knowledge-based scientific and entrepreneurial economical pathway.
The main scientific goal of the Hope probe is to study the Martian climate daily and through seasonal cycles for 2 years. So, it can be said that the Hope probe will be the first true weather satellite of Mars. There is an ongoing climate change process on Mars, of which Hope probe will provide more data about. The Hope probe is equipped with instruments that will build holistic models of Mars and its climate. It will also carry three instruments to study the Martian atmosphere, which includes a digital camera for high definition colored photographs, an infrared spectrometer which will examine the temperature and water profile, and an ultraviolet spectrometer which will study the upper atmosphere and the traces of oxygen and hydrogen outbursts into space.
Half of all the missions sent to Mars so far have failed. Hope project director Omran Sharaf acknowledges the risks, saying: "This is a research and development mission and, yes, failure is an option." in an interview with the BBC News. He continues, "However, failure to progress as a nation is not an option. And what matters the most here is the capacity and the capability that the UAE gained out of this mission, and the knowledge it brought into the country.".
Being a successful mission so far, Hope probe carries the hopes of both the Emirati nation and all the other nations with a space endeavor. It also shows the world that space studies are no longer limited to a handful number of traditional countries, but an accessible area of study for many more. Now, it is only a matter of time and patience until the Hope probe hopefully reaches its destination in February 2021. (1) (2) (3) (4)