This week the United Arab Emirates reached orbit around the red planet Mars. The Hope spacecraft launched all the way back in July of 2020 and just reached Mars here on the 9th of February, 2021. “This has been a remarkable journey of humanity,” said UAE Space Agency chairperson Sarah Al Amiri. This is the UAE’s first ever interplanetary mission.
Hope launched aboard a Japan-made H-IIA rocket back in July of 2020 and spent weeks and months in space, journeying to Mars. Now, today, February 9th, 2021, they’ve successfully reached the red planet and inserted in orbit around the planet. The UAE is only the fifth entity to reach Mars, including India, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Soviet Union, and NASA.
As noted by Space dot com, Hope is now “in a temporary orbit that it will retain for a few months as it powers on its instruments and settles into its new home.” The UAE has a plan to move Hope to a science orbit in May of 2021.
The Hope mission has a planned schedule for one Martian year. That’ll last approximately 687 days here on Earth. During this time, Hope will measure various atmospheric phenomena around the planet.
The Hope spacecraft works with three instruments that’ll measure various bits around the planet. They’ll aim to measure how Mars loses atmosphere to space. They’ll attempt to study connections between atmospheric layers around Mars. They’ll also study Mars weather from above.
This is not the only mission headed to Mars this month. NASA’s Perseverance rover is aimed at the red planet this month – it’ll likely land on February 18, 2021. The China Tianwen-1 mission is aiming for arrival this week as well. Take a peek at the first Mars photo from Tianwen-1 now, or drop in on our most recent Perseverance article about the wild landing it’ll make to learn more about said mission.