The first Arab space flight to Mars regarding space exploration is getting ready to collect data within weeks. In the next few months we are expecting great news.
Traveling the 493 million km (308 million miles) would take seven months to reach Mars and begin its orbit, bringing back fascinating new evidence about the environment and atmosphere.
To collect enough data, the probe will stay orbiting Mars for a whole Martian year, 687 days.
A continuous orbit around Mars takes 55 hours to test.
The hope probe
Sarah Al-Amiri, research chief of the programme, said that the initiative would be a big opportunity for young Arab scientists to embark on a space exploration career.
Named Amal, meaning Hope, the robotic ship has lift off from Tanegashima, a small Japanese island on July 14.
It holds three types of sensors propelled by a Japanese rocket to determine the dynamic composition of Mars’ atmosphere. Those have a high-resolution multiband camera to monitor dust and ozone on the earth.
Second, an infrared spectrometer will be used to test the lower atmosphere and co-developed with Arizona State University, one of three US partner universities in the project.
The third sensor is to be an ultraviolet spectrometer for calculating levels of oxygen and hydrogen.
Ms Al-Amiri said one of the research’s focuses will be on how these two elements, which are also important for water, escape the earth.
Sir Ian Blatchford, director of the UK’s Science Museum Association, found out that “many projects have been geologically based, so this would offer the most detailed, holistic view of Mars’ atmosphere.’
The UAE does have a space flight track record. This has also sent spacecraft to the International Space Station in the Earth’s orbit and one of its astronauts.
The first Arab astronaut to enter orbit was Prince Sultan Bin Salman Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia who also flew on the 1985 US space shuttle.
Yet this also is of a different nature entirely.
UAE and the space exploration
The spacecraft was assembled in Colorado and sent to Japan, where due to the coronavirus pandemic all of its engineers suddenly had to go into quarantine, threatening to postpone the launch.
Monica Grady, professor of planetary and space science at the Open University of Britain. She also suggests that this Mars exploration marks a significant change in a field historically dominated by the world’s great powers.
“The discovery of Mars is a huge step forward. As it shows that other countries-not the European Space Agency and NASA will really go there-and we hope it can get there. Mars has a long history of mission errors”. She said.
The UAE team leaders working on the initiative have also reminded the world that Arab inventors and thinkers were right. At the forefront of technological space exploration eight centuries ago.
So, Dubai ‘s president, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. He believes this bold initiative will reinvigorate a sense of national identity. And also help the country diversify away from its reliance on the oil industry.
Provided it hits Mars. In the same year as the UAE marks 50 years after its establishment as a country in 1971. Hope will also land on the red planet.
No-one may definitely accuse the nation of losing determination. The desire for space exploration is huge. It’s promised to also establish a human colony on Mars by 2117.