I rejoice when the first Arab project to Mars reaches orbit

The Hope spacecraft of the United Arab Emirates has entered Martian orbit, completing the riskiest component of its two-year project, making the United Arab Emirates (UAE) the fifth player to succeed on Mars, after Europeans, Indians, Russians and American agencies in the area. Hope is a component of the first interplanetary project of any Arab state.

The $200 million probe, called Amal in Arabic, was built at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in Dubai, through a team of establishment engineers and other U. S. partners. Orbit paves the way for the probe’s clinical mission, which will make observations of the planet’s atmosphere, at all times and anywhere.

In the United Arab Emirates, public monuments and heritage sites were illuminated in red in the countdown to the ship’s arrival. News of the successful arrival of the probe was met with applause in the MBRSC control room.

“The last seven years of our lives have revolved around preparing for this moment. And it’s a surreal moment,” says Fatma Lootah, a member of the mission’s clinical team at MBRSC. “We are very excited about what is to come. “

“The hairs on my neck are curly, my goose bumps. What a achievement,” said Fahad Al Meheiri, a senior official of the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, speaking on Dubai One TV at the time of the announcement.

Access to Mars orbit took place around four o’clock in the afternoon. UTC on February 9, after a seven-month adventure after Hope entered from Japan on July 20. With a combustion of 27 minutes of its 6 thrusters, the device will have decreased its cruising speed from 121,000 kilometers in hours to approximately 18,000 kilometers consistent with the hour, consuming a portion of its total fuel supply. To enter orbit after his four million- and four-million-mile adventure, Hope had to triumph in a six-hundred-kilometre sweet spot.

It’s the “riskiest point” of the assignment, says Omran Sharaf, allocation manager for Emirates Mars’ MBRSC assignment.

The maneuver appears to have been “in the middle,” says Brett Landin, an engineer at the University of Colorado at Boulder who leads the mission spacecraft team. “We look forward to confirming our navigation team in the next few hours we have reached the desired orbit, which gives us an unprecedented situation about the long-term weather and weather conditions of our Martian neighbor. “

Engineers were unable to operate Hope remotely from real-time project control, as signals to the red planet take 11 minutes to travel in each direction. Instead, the ship acted autonomously, using commands downloaded 4 days in advance. “A safe point of intelligence” to deal with the surprises of the maneuver, says Pete Withnell, director of the project program at the University of Colorado.

The ship is now in an elliptical retention orbit as engineers review and check its tools, in a position to move to the “scientific orbit” from which Hope will begin its project in mid-May. This wide elliptical orbit is what makes the project special. This will allow Hope’s 3 tools, a high-resolution imager and infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, to practice each and every single one and every geographic region of Mars, each and every hour of the day, once and every one. every nine days, to create a global map of the Martian climate. Such observations had never been made on Mars.

After processing, knowledge will be sent to the global clinical network however. The first tranche of knowledge is expected to be published until September, sarah Al Amiri, deputy director of assignment and assignment scientist, said at a previous event. Knowledge will allow researchers to analyze the planet’s atmosphere, from dust storms in their decreasing component to their outer outer layer, the exosphere from which hydrogen and oxygen escape into space. Knowledge will also help scientists perceive how activities in other atmospheric regions influence each other.

Scientists are already analyzing knowledge of unplanned and “opportunistic” experiments on Hope’s journey, Al Amiri said. In one, Hope looked through the solar formula at the European Space Agency’s BepiColombo spacecraft, which is headed for Mercury. space, the two machines deserve to have noticed the same degrees of hydrogen, allowing groups to recalibrate their tools and read about the distribution of hydrogen in the solar formula.

The emergence of the United Arab Emirates as an area force has been rapid. The country’s first area corporation was just 15 years ago, when it began working with Satrec Initiative, a South Korean-based corporation, daejeon, to build a terrestrial satellite. announced plans to send a rover to the Moon in 2024. Unlike the Emirates Mars mission, which involved many Emirati engineers, saw Hope designed and built primarily in the United States, the rover is destined to evolve only in UNIS ARABES EMIRATA.

Hope introduced from Tanegashima Space Center near Minamitane, Japan. It is one of 3 probes destined for Mars to be introduced last July; China’s Tianwen-1 is scheduled to reach the Red Planet on February 10, and NASA’s Perseverance rover will land on February 18.

So far, the project has been an “emotional roller coaster,” Al Amiri said in the briefing. “Every point of the birthday party is followed by various topics of concern, waiting for the next point of the birthday party,” he said.

“This project has been an ambitious company in the component of a young nation, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this historic enterprise,” Landin says.

Nature 590, 372-373 (2021)

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