The United Arab Emirates’ first mission to Mars arrived at the red planet on Tuesday and successfully entered orbit on its first attempt.The Emirates Mars Mission known as the Hope Probe sent back a signal confirming it’s in orbit.
“Success! Contact with #HopeProbe has been established again. The Mars Orbit Insertion is now complete,” according to a tweet from the mission’s Twitter account at 11:16 a.m. ET.The UAE Space Agency began live coverage of Hope’s arrival on February 9 beginning at 10 a.m. ET on its website.
When the spacecraft arrived, the Hope Probe marked the UAE as only the fifth country in history to reach the red planet and a first for the Arab world. The ambitions of the mission don’t stop there.
The probe, along with its three scientific instruments, is expected to create the first complete portrait of the Martian atmosphere. The instruments will collect different data points on the atmosphere to also gauge seasonal and daily changes.
This information will provide scientists with an idea of what climate dynamics and weather are like in different layers of the Martian atmosphere. Together, this will shed light on how energy and particles, like oxygen and hydrogen, move through the atmosphere and how they even escape Mars.
The mission was one of three that launched to Mars from Earth in July, including NASA’s Perseverance rover and China’s Tianwen-1 mission. Hope will orbit the planet, Tianwen-1 will orbit the planet and land on it, and Perseverance will land on Mars.
All three missions launched around the same time due to an alignment between Mars and the Earth on the same side of the sun, making for a more efficient journey to Mars.
Hope is the first of those missions to arrive at Mars; Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive on February 10 and Perseverance on February 18.
“Congratulations @HopeMarsMission on your safe arrival to Mars’ orbit! Your bold endeavor to explore the Red Planet will inspire many others to reach for the stars.
We hope to join you at Mars soon with @NASAPersevere,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
Scenes from the journey to design, build and launch Hope were displayed on the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, and other iconic buildings across the UAE were glowing red in honor of the Martian mission Tuesday night.
Once the news broke that the mission had successfully entered orbit around Mars, the Burj Khalifa began a celebratory light show.Emirati engineers with an average age of 27 worked on the Hope Probe, with women making up 34% of that team, and 80% of the science team comprised of women.
One of the goals of the mission is to help build a knowledge-based economy for the UAE, leading to more investment in STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for young Emiratis.
“One of our mission objectives was to stimulate a lot of students and an entire society within STEM and we’ve seen a large shift with the mindset of students, first and foremost, within the Emirates,” said Sarah Al-Amiri in a recent press conference.
“But we’ve also seen a lot of keen engagement within the region, a region that is typically known to be unstable, and that has triggered a lot of thoughts with regards to what is possible.
“Sarah Al-Amiri is not only the deputy project manager for the mission, she’s also the Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, chair of the UAE Space Agency and the United Arab Emirates Council of Scientists.