20200720 hope probe uae
People watch a big screen displaying the launch of the Hope Probe from Tanegashima Island in Japan, at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Communication with Mars-bound Hope Probe has been reduced to essential operations as the first Arab interplantery mission continues with its 495-million km cruise to the Red Planet, Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) announced on Thursday.

“The #HopeProbe has now commenced the ‘normal operations’ phase of its cruise, following the successful completion of the commissioning phase in which we have ensured that all on-board systems are operating nominally,” EMM tweeted. EMM added: “As the distance between the Hope probe and Earth increases, we are now reducing communications to essential operations during the cruise phase as we head towards our third Trajectory Control Manouevre (TCM) in November.”

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A TCM is required to adjust the precise path of a spacecraft. During its seven months of travel through space, Hope Probe’s path is adjusted to make sure it reaches Mars’ orbit safely.

Hope Probe is travelling at a cruise speed of 121,000km/hour, but it will automatically reduce its speed to 18,000km/hour as it gets closer to Mars.

45 days since launch

Hope Probe, which is designed to orbit Mars and get a complete picture of its global atmosphere, has so far travelled 126,660,000 kms, 45 days after it was successfully launched in the early hours of July 20 from Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.

On August 24, two images taken by the UAE’s Hope Probe were shared by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on his social media account. The images showed Hope Probe passing Jupiter and Saturn, with Mars lying ahead.

Hope Probe is expected to enter Mars’ orbit in February next year, coinciding with the UAE’s golden jubilee celebrations.

Hope Probe is expected to collect more than 1,000GB of new data, which will be shared with more than 200 academic and scientific institutions around the world for free. By studying the connection between current Martian weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet, scientists will have deeper insights into the past and future of the Earth as well as the potential for human settlement on Mars and other planetary objects.