This Article was written by Zanelle Awinyo ann J.L (Year 9)
First announced in July 2014, the Emirates Mars Mission- one of the first Arabian developed spacecraft projects, was developed and operated by Mohammed Bin Rashid in the Space Centre in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, Arizona State University and the University of Colorado-Boulder in the United States.
Now after 6 years of trials, Hope Probe (Al-Amal) was finally launched into space on the 20th of July 2020, at the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan and was carried by a Japanese H-IIA rocket, reaching Mars’s orbit on the 9th of February 2021.
Now we ask ourselves, why Mars?
The mission was started for scientists to complete a full picture of Mars' climate; helping scientists better understand what Mars was like when its atmosphere could have supported life and if there’s a viable way for humans to survive on Mars. Not only that, but scientists are also planning to use this information to understand how our own planet’s climate is changing and the consequences of those changes.
But how was the UAE planning to do this?
Hope was built to study Mars from a much higher orbit: 22,000 by 44,000 kilometres instead of 4,500 by 150 kilometres. This is because it will help Hope study Mars’ upper atmosphere, watching traces of hydrogen and oxygen, which are the remains from Mars’ wetter days, that leaked into space.
Why was it launched in 2020?
Every 18 to 24 months, Earth and Mars align in such a way that the journey is shortened from a 9 months to a 7 month trip. If the UAE had Failed to begin the trip during the "launch window" of July to August 2020- it would mean that the mission would have to be postponed for another two years. Besides that, no information about how Covid affected the project has yet been released, but we can assume that proper safety health measures were taken and remember that the project started in 2014. This means that during 2020 it would have simply been in testing.
1. The mission includes 150 Emirati engineers as well as 200 engineers and scientists at partnered institutions in the United States. It is also notable that 34 percent of the workers are women. This is significant because it shows that women can also be a part of projects that require STEM.
2. While most Mars missions take 10-12 years to be completely developed and tested, the scientists at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre completed the project in six years and at almost half the cost, according to a tweet posted by Sheikh Mohammed in April 2020.
3. The Hope probe weighs 1,350kg, which is about the same as 200 average-sized adults (or about the same as a small elephant!)
4. Major landmarks across the UAE turned red to celebrate the Hope probe mission's meeting with Mars because this is such an amazing achievement for the UAE and for the Middle East.
Did you watch this monumental event? Let us know!
Thank you for reading & see you soon.