20200713 mbrsc
The control room of the Mars Mission at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has said that the UAE's Hope Probe is now in its most critical stage as the spacecraft is set to enter Mars orbit on February 9, 2021, at 7.42pm UAE time.

Omran Sharaf, Project Director of Emirates Mars Mission, said that the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) is at a risky stage when the Hope Probe will have to slow down sufficiently to be captured into the Mars orbit. As it approaches the Mars orbit, the spacecraft will use its thrusters to reduce its speed.

“Precision is fundamental to success to avoid a crash on Mars or missing its orbit and getting lost in deep space,” he said. “The design, system and software that will be used for the MOI are all Emirati-made. This is in line with the directive from the UAE leadership to build and not to buy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Africazine, a website from the African continent, has published a detailed report on the historic mission of the UAE’s Hope Probe as part of the Emirates Mars Mission to reach Mars. The report has confirmed that the Hope Probe, developed by Emirati minds to carry out the first Arab mission to Mars, will provide humanity with unprecedented information about the Red Planet.

The report noted that the countdown has begun for the first-ever Arab interplanetary mission to enter the Red Planet’s orbit.

The complex manoeuvre on February 9 will be the most critical part of the mission that will see the spacecraft rapidly reduce its speed from 121,000km/hr to 18,000km/hr to enter the orbit of Mars.

The MBRSC report details the journey of the Hope Probe from the launch to its arrival in the Mars orbit after travelling 493 million kilometres in a seven-month journey since its launch on July 20, 2020, from Tanegashima Island in Japan. The probe will provide first-ever complete pictures of Martian atmosphere. It also mentioned that the unmanned spacecraft will explore the climactic dynamics of the Red Planet in daily and seasonal timescales for a full Martian year (687 earth days), an endeavour that has never been pursued by any previous mission.

Since its launch from Tanegashima Space Centre in southwestern Japan, on a Mitsubishi MH-IIA rocket, the Hope probe has completed the launch and early operation stages — two of the six stages of its journey. The spacecraft is approaching the end of the third and longest stage, the cruise, which saw three successful manoeuvres to keep the probe on track towards its Mars destination. On February 9, 2021, the probe will enter its fourth, and most critical stage of its journey. The following two stages, the “transition to the Science Orbit” and the “Science Orbit” will see the probe carrying out its exploration mission to study the atmospheric dynamics and weather of the Red Planet.

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The probe was 100 per cent indigenously manufactured, enabling young Emirati scientists and engineers to take on a massive challenge in the new field of space. The young team was trained and prepared to take on projects in the space sector as an opportunity to build new national capabilities and build a sustainable infrastructure for space technologies in the country, in collaboration with global partners, the report added.