‘Hope Probe’: UAE launches its first-ever mission to Mars

Before the launch of the Hope Probe at Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. (Pic: @HopeMarsMission )

New Delhi (NVI): In a first for the Arab world, the United Arab Emirates has launched ‘Hope Probe’ mission to Mars as a UAE spacecraft blasted off to the red planet from Japan today.

The mission was originally scheduled to leave Earth on July 14 but was delayed due to bad weather. Finally, the Hope Probe was launched early today from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center aboard a Mitsubishi H-2A rocket, for a seven-month voyage.

According to the Gulf News, two-way communication has been established between the mission and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in the country. The Mars orbiter has been named ‘Amal’, or Hope.

“Two-way communication established. The ground segment has received and communicated the first signals with the Hope Probe,” read a tweet from @HopeMarsMission.

The Arab country first had announced plans for the mission in 2014. It launched a National Space programme in 2017 to develop expertise.

As the Hope Probe separated from the rocket about an hour after the liftoff, there was a jubilant atmosphere at the UAE Space Agency amid thunderous applause from controllers and engineers.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine also congratulated the team at UAE Space Agency for the successful launch of the first-ever mission. “Congrats to the team that worked on @HopeMarsMission. It’s truly amazing what @uaespaceagency & @MBRSpaceCentre have accomplished in such a short time. Hope is exactly what the world needs and thank you to the UAE & @mhi for inspiring all of us,” he tweeted.

The mission will cost UAE USD 200 million, according to minister for advanced sciences Sarah Amiri. It will analyse the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.

The Hope Probe is expected to reach Mars orbit in February 2021 during the 50th anniversary of UAE unification, according to foreign media reports. It will not land on the planet but will instead orbit it for an entire Martian year, or 687 days.

China and the United States also plan to launch their missions to the red planet this month. While China intends to send a Martian orbiter, lander, and rover on the 23 July, the US plans to launch the Perserverence Rover to look for signs of Martian life.