From Desert to Mars in 50 Years: The UAE Made Interplanetary History Last Night

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Hope has come to Mars. The Hope Probe that is, but the pun was too good to resist. With only a 50 percent chance of success, it is amazingly spectacular what the young, bright Emirati scientists have done here in the UAE, especially considering our young country’s space program was only started in 2014.

Hope entered Mars’ orbit last night and – after a critical and extremely difficult maneuver – was captured by Mars’ gravitational pull, making history as the first Arab nation to successfully send a spacecraft to our neighboring planet. The UAE nows joins an elite club of only five nations to have visited Mars.

Hope is the first of three missions sent to the Red Planet from the Blue Planet this year. China’s Tianwen-1 is set to arrive in Mars’ orbit on the 10th of February with an orbiter, lander, and rover, and NASA‘s Perseverance is set to join the party on the 18th of February, but will be heading straight for Jezero Crater.

Hope’s mission is unique in that it will be the first spacecraft to maintain an elliptical science orbit over the next few months, allowing for observations and data to be collected both day and night to provide a wider, more global view of Mars over the entire planet. This data will be shared for free with over 200 research centers around the world.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, were personally present at mission control in Dubai for this historic event. “You took our honor and our reputation to Mars,” said Sheikh Mohamed to the new generation of scientists.

 

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