The United Arab Emirates’ “Hope” probe successfully entered Mars orbit on Monday and made history as the first interplanetary mission in the Arab world.
The probe is designed to reveal the secrets of the Martian weather, but the UAE also wants it to serve as an inspiration to the region’s youth.
“We announce the successful arrival in Mars orbit to the people of the UAE, the Arab and Muslim nations. Praise be to God,” said Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager.
Mission control officials applauded after the probe entered orbit and were visibly relieved after a tense half hour when the probe performed a “burn” to slow down enough to be drawn in during the most dangerous phase of Martian gravity the trip.
Hope is the first of three starships to arrive on the Red Planet this month after China and the US also launched missions in July to seize a time when Earth and Mars are closest.
The UAE project is also planned to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the seven Emirates of the UAE.
“What you have achieved is an honor for you and an honor for the nation. I want to congratulate you,” said the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, after entering the control room.
The probe, called “Al-Amal”, Arabic for “hope”, turned and fired all six powerful engines in order to drastically slow its average cruising speed from 121,000 kilometers per hour to around 18,000 km / h.
And when the clock ran out, Dubai’s needle-shaped Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, glowed red with blue laser lights against a backdrop of dramatic music.
Landmarks across the Gulf State have been lit in red at night, and government accounts and police patrol cars are adorned with the hashtag #ArabstoMars.
– “Bigger goal” –
The probe is intended to provide a comprehensive picture of the planet’s weather dynamics, but it is also a step towards a much more ambitious goal – to build a human settlement on Mars within 100 years.
In addition to consolidating its status as an important regional actor, the UAE also want to engage young people in a region that is too often afflicted by sectarian conflicts and economic crises.
“This project means a lot to the nation, to the entire region and to the global science and space community,” Sharaf told AFP before the launch.
“It’s not about getting to Mars. It’s a tool for a much bigger goal. The government wanted to see a big shift in the mindset of the youth in the Emirates … to create an advanced science and technology sector in the United States UAE speed up. “
To mark the historic moment, this week the UAE projected images of Mars’ two moons – Phobos and Deimos – onto the Dubai night sky so residents can “see what the probe sees”.
Unlike the other two Mars companies, China’s Tianwen-1 and Mars 2020 from the US, the UAE’s probe will not land on the Red Planet.
Hope will deploy three scientific instruments to monitor the planet’s atmosphere and is expected to send data back to Earth from September 2021 to make it available to scientists around the world.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)