Marhaba Mars! Gulf News was on the ground to share incisive live updates on Hope Probe’s Mars successful orbit insertion. On February 9 around 8.15pm, it was confirmed that the Hope probe had successfully entered Mars orbit where it will remain for two Earth years.
See you in Mars, China and USA.
Hope Probe is now in Mars orbit and waiting for China’s Tianwen-1 dual orbiter-rover to arrive in Mars on Wedensday (February 10, 2021), while NASA’s Perseverance rover will make a landing attempt in an area on Mars on February 18. All three Mars missions were launched in July last year. The Hope Probe has travelled over 435 million kilometres to Mars after liftoff from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre in July 2020.
The Hope Probe has travelled over 435 million kilometres to Mars after liftoff from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre in July 2020.
Moment of jubilation. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, congratulated the young Emirati engineers for successful entry of Hope Probe in Mars orbit.
Hope Probe is the realisation of UAE’s ambitious space programme and its arrival in Mars is in line with the country’s golden jubilee celebration. After entering Mars’ orbit, Hope Probe will then transition to Science phase. This is when it will commence with its mission to build the first complete structure of the Martian atmosphere using its three advanced scientific instruments that will take pictures of the Red Planet's atmosphere for one Martian year or around two Earth years.
Jubilation! Marhaba, Mars. With its three scientific instruments, Hope Probe will map a complete portrait of the Martian atmosphere and study its seasonal and daily changes. It will collect more than one terabyte (1,000GB) of new data, which will be shared with more than 200 academic and scientific institutions worldwide for free, according to MBRSC.
Omran Sharaf, Emirates Mars Mission project director, is making the final checks before announcing the next update on Hope Probe. All commands to Hope Probe have been pre-programmed.
There is no live command that ground crew at the command centre at MBRSC in Dubai can send to the probe as there is a 22-minute delay in communicating with the spacecraft. It requires 11 minutes to send and another 11 minutes to receive radio signals, hence the need for autonomous manoeuvres.
What is the Hope Probe's capture orbit, which the Hope Probe will enter after successfully completing Mars Orbit Insertion?
The mood is tense at Burj Plaza. Everyone is waiting for the next signal from Hope Probe. The Emirates Mars Mission ground control is using the Deep Space Network, NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions, plus a few others that orbit Earth for communications.
Hope Probe is also being monitored through three antennas spread across Canberra, Australia; Madrid, Spain; and Goldstone, California, USA.
The next 20 minutes will decide the fate of the Emirates Mars Mission. The crucial and terrifying time window is when Hope Probe is dramatically reducing its speed from over 121,000 km/h to approximately 18,000 km/h to successfully enter Mars' orbit. There is no do-over.
Fuel burn has begun
The command centre has confirmed that the fuel burn has begun. The fuel burn will reduce the speed of the #HopeProbe from over 121,000 km/h to approximately 18,000 km/h
Hope Probe is healthy. The first signal has been received by the ground control mission at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. The time has come for the historic moment; the Delta V thrusters have started burning fuel. The orbital entry of Hope Probe Mars has officially begun.
One minute before confirmation. Gulf News earlier talked to young Emirati engineers, programmers and data analysts at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre are confident of a successful Mars Orbit Insertion. The anxiety and excitement were evident but the Emirati engineers, scientists and analysts exuded a quiet confidence.
At Burj Palza, Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chair of the UAE Space Agency, went up the stage to explain how the spacecraft will enter the Red Planet’s orbit.
Al Amiri explained the firing of thrusters to decelerate the speed of Hope Probe will commence when the spacecraft is 2,363 km from the planetary surface. Hope will reach 1,062 km from Mars (the periapsis or nearest point of its planned capture orbit) before the burn ends at 1,441 km distance from the planet.
Some five minutes following the MOI burn, the Hope probe flies into the dark side of Mars. This period is called ‘occultation’ — this occurs when an object or spacecraft is hidden by another object (or planet). Radio signals will be lost for some 15 minutes until the probe can be contacted again
Al Amiri highlighted: Hope Probe mission has not only spurred a burgeoning scientific awakening in the UAE, it has also demonstrated the country’s commitment to global cooperation on space exploration.
The UAE Mars mission has opened new scientific horizons and turned the UAE into a knowledge-exporting country instead of an importer of knowledge, sharing with the world for the first time, unprecedented data that will be captured by Hope Probe.
Marhaba, Mars from Burj Khalifa! As Hope Probe is about to enter Mars orbit, the world tallest tower has put on a stunning laser light show featuring the UAE’s space programme. The 5-minute spectacle started by showing the UAE founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, coversing with the Apollo 17 crew (Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt, and Nasa scientist, Dr Farouk Al Baz in February 1976). The epic meeting set the pace for the UAE Space Programme.
The show then gave a visual narrative of the UAE’s achievement in space – from the first satellite launched to the first Emirati sent to space and the successful launch of Hope Probe from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre on July 20, 2020. The show also paid tribute to more than 200 Emirati engineers who collaborated with scientists, engineers and experts around the world in building Hope Probe that will provide the most comprehensive and detailed picture of the Martian atmosphere.
22-minute communication delay
It has been announced that Hope Probe will enter Mars orbit at 7.42pm (UAE time) but the actual insertion will happen at around 7.30pm. There is a difference in time because of the 11-minute delay in communication between the Mars-bound spacecraft and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai.
“The total communication delay is 22 minutes. The first signal delay, which we call one-way light time (the elapsed time it takes for radio signal to travel between Earth and a celestial object), is the sending of command to Hope Probe from the ground control room. The second signal delay or two-way light time is another 11 minutes, when receive at MBRSC the response from the spacecraft,” Hamad Eisa Al Hazami, Hope Probe software development engineer and flight director, earlier explained to Gulf News
So, when Hope Probe fires its six Delta V thrusters to rapidly reduce the speed of the spacecraft from 121,000 km/h to 18,000 km/h before entering Mars orbit, we will only get confirmation that this happened at 7.42pm.
Ghaleb Al Breiki, acting vice chancellor for UAE University said : “It is a historic moment for us now. We hope that we give hope to the Arab youth. One of the major objective to prepare the graduate in space technology."
“For our leadership there is nothing impossible . Stay tuned there is more coming.”
Dr Arif Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President, Khalifa University speaks to Gulf News on his thoughts on why the UAE is going to Mars. He said, “We find that there is so much synergy between what we do here in the UAE and in the Mars. There is evaporation of hydrogen and oxygen that doesn’t become water. This is what Hope Mars will study - why we have ice and why we have evaporation of the water. We are not just going to Mars we are doing what is best for our country."
Hourly shows will be featured on the world’s tallest tower to showcase the UAE Mars Mission to Mars. Red is the major motif at Burj Plaza that has transformed into an open-air media centre, with the world’s tallest tower in the background. Major landmarks across the UAE have also turned red.
Have you’ve recently seen two moons appearing in Dubai sky — they were not a social media hoax but not real either. The two celestial bodies that suddenly appeared in Al Qudra area in Dubai were part of a campaign organised by the UAE Government Media Office to celebrate Hope Probe’s rendezvous with Mars.
The Martian moons — Deimos and Phobos — were projected in the sky using two giant 100-meter cranes and an advanced 40-metre screen have been used to make the moons appear realistically in the sky and visible from long distance. The idea was to create a way that allows everyone to see what Hope Probe is capturing 500 million miles away.
Dimitra Atri, Research Scientist, New York University Abu Dhabi talks about his passion for planetary study and the focus on planets that could be habitable for humans in the future.
Local and International media have started arriving at Burj Plaza to cover the historic Hope Probe Mars arrival. Strict health protocols are being observed, including wearing of face mask at all times and maintaining adequate physical distancing.
A giant screen is placed on stage to provide live feed of Hope Journey status. Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, serves as towering background and immense witness to the historic event that will make the UAE the fifth country in the world to enter Mars.
Later tonight, as Hope Probe enters Mars orbit, Burj Khalifa will feature a special laser light show showcasing UAE space mission, including sending the first astronaut to space and the Emirati-made Earth observation satellites.
In accordance with social distancing protocols, live viewing and media coverage set up has been arranged at the Burj Plaza, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai.
Travelling? You can catch today's historic events unfold live on screen in Dubai Airports. The live screening will start in Concourse B near Gate 26 at 7pm.
UAE on course to make history today
Marhaba, Mars! History will be made today. Hope Probe, the first Arab interplanetary mission, is expected to enter Mars orbit at 7.42pm (UAE time). The UAE is on course to become only the fifth country or entity in the world to reach the Red Planet, and the third country to achieve the feat on the first attempt.
The spacecraft represents a new Hope – it carries with it the dreams and aspirations of around half a billion people in the Arab world. Today is the culmination of more than five million working hours by over 200 Emirati engineers who collaborated with scientists, engineers and experts around the world in creating an orbiter that will provide the most comprehensive and detailed picture of the Martian atmosphere.Today is also a celebration for a young country celebrating its Golden Jubilee.
You can get live updates online through Emirates Mars Mission and NASA's Deep Space Network. While you wait for the action to start, read up on all the other stories we have up about the Hope Probe.
The Arab and Islamic scholars of yesteryears have birthed modern astronomy by systematically studying the skies and observing the curious movements of cosmos and planetary objects. A new dawn in Arab space exploration is happening with the Hope Probe mission.