20200710 hope probe
Emiratis gather at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Mars Mission, EMM, has detailed seven strategic objectives of the “Hope Probe,” including acquiring human knowledge, enhancing the UAE’s capacities and promoting international cooperation, in addition to collecting data and achieving the mission’s scientific outcomes.

The EMM is the UAE’s first mission to Mars. It is designed to orbit Mars and study the dynamics in the Martian atmosphere on a global scale, and on both diurnal and seasonal timescales. Using three scientific instruments on board of the spacecraft, the mission will provide a set of measurements fundamental to an improved understanding of circulation and weather in the Martian lower and middle atmosphere.

Combining such data with the monitoring of the upper layers of the atmosphere, EMM measurements will reveal the mechanisms behind the upward transport of energy and particles, and the subsequent escape of atmospheric particles from the gravity of Mars, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, MBRSC, said, which is responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development and launch of the Hope Probe in July 2020.

The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project. Following a journey of several months, the probe is expected to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of the Union.

The Hope Probe will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers when it reaches the red planet’s orbit in 2021. It will help answer key questions about the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year.

Scientific Objectives

Hope Probe will provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere, including: understand climate dynamics and the global weather map through characterizing the lower atmosphere of Mars; explain how the weather changes the escape of hydrogen and oxygen through correlating the lower atmosphere conditions with the upper atmosphere; and understand the structure and variability of both these gases in the upper atmosphere, as well as identifying why Mars is losing them into space.

Strategic Objectives

To improve the quality of life on earth by pushing limits to make new discoveries; to encourage global collaboration in Mars exploration; to demonstrate leadership in space research; to build Emirati capabilities in the field of interplanetary exploration; to build scientific knowledge; to inspire future Arab generations to pursue space science; to establish the UAE’s position as a beacon of progress in the region.

Mars’ First Weather Satellite

The Hope Probe will study the weather system of Mars, monitoring for the first-time weather changes throughout the day, across the planet, during all seasons. It will monitor the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen in the upper portions of Mars’ atmosphere (the exosphere). The Probe will also focus on better understanding the link between weather changes in Mars’ lower atmosphere, with loss of hydrogen and oxygen from the upper layers of the atmosphere. “This for the first time will allow us to study the link between weather change and atmospheric loss, a process that may have been responsible for Mars’ transition, over billions of years, from a thick atmosphere capable of sustaining liquid water on the surface, to the cold, thin, arid atmosphere we see today,” MBRSC noted.

Hope Probe Science Instruments

The Emirates Mars Mission is tasked to provide the first-ever complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. Three state-of-the-art science instruments have been designed to study the different aspects of this atmosphere.

The Hope Probe’s Instrument Suite The Hope Probe will be able to study the atmosphere from a science orbit of 20,000 km periapsis and 43,000 km apoapsis, with an orbital period of 55 hours and an orbital inclination of 25. No other Mars spacecraft has had such an orbit; most orbit at a single local time that allows the atmosphere to be measured at only one time of day. Hope Probe carries a suite of three instruments which work simultaneously to observe key constituents within the atmosphere.

Emirates eXploration Imager, EXI EXI is a multi-wavelength imager capable of capturing 12 mega-pixel visible images of Mars. It also measures the distribution of water ice and ozone in the lower atmosphere utilizing the ultraviolet bands.

Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer, EMIRS EMIRS observes Mars in the infrared band measures the optical depth of dust, ice clouds and water vapour in the atmosphere. It also measures the temperature of the surface and the lower atmosphere of Mars.

Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer, EMUS EMUS studies the upper atmosphere of Mars through the far-ultraviolet wavelengths. It determines the distribution of carbon monoxide and oxygen in the thermosphere. EMUS also measures the distribution of oxygen and hydrogen in the exosphere of Mars.

The Hope Probe will be launched into space from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan aboard an H2A202 rocket, which is part of the H-IIA launch vehicle family. The 53 meters-high H-IIA Launch Vehicle is a high-performance rocket developed and operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which provides all the services related to the spacecraft launch including launch vehicle manufacturing, interface coordination, and launch operations at the space centre. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, takes care of flight safety, range safety and launch site facility.

With launch capacity of 4.0 metric tons, the launch vehicle consists of a first stage, second stage, fairing, and a pair of Solid Rocket Boosters, SRB-As. The propulsion system of the launch vehicle uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

The EMM ground segment is composed of the ground network and its ground stations, a navigation system, operations centre, mission design, Science Data Centre, SDC, and Instrument Team Facilities.