UAE probe sets off on historic mission to Mars

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first interplanetary mission undertaken by an Arab nation, has successfully launched the Mars Hope probe from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. 

Emirates Mars Mission
The United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe lifts off from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, on a seven-month journey to the Red Planet. Image: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC

Following lift off from the launch platform – at 01:58am UAE Time on 20th July – a two-stage 53-metre Mitsubishi MHI-2A reached a velocity of 38,000 km/h (Mach 35) to place the probe into earth’s orbit. The probe –will now begin its 493,000,000 Km, seven-month journey to the red planet.

The Mars Hope Probe will reach Mars orbit in 2021, the 50th anniversary of The Emirates, which became an independent nation on 2 December 1971. Once there, it will enter orbit around Mars and begin its mission of building the first full picture of the planet’s climate throughout the Martian year.

The fully autonomous 1350kg spacecraft – which will carry three separate instruments to measure Mars’ atmosphere – was designed and developed by engineers from Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) working with academic partners, including LASP at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

EMM and the Hope probe was funded by the UAE Space Agency and are the culmination of a knowledge transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre working with partners around the world to develop the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. It is part of a long-term integrated effort to create economic opportunity around leadership in space sciences, research and exploration.

Her Excellency Sarah Bint Youssef Al-Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences and Deputy Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission, said: “The Emirates Mars Mission was conceived to disrupt and accelerate the development of the UAE’s space sector, education and science community. EMM is driving innovation in the UAE, building educational capabilities and new opportunities for the nation’s young people to build careers in the fast-growing global space sector and driving excellence in engineering, scientific research and innovation. The successful launch of EMM takes us one step closer to reaching the Mission’s science goals.”