UAE’s Mars Mission to launch on Time despite Coronavirus

UAE’s Mars Mission to launch on Time despite Coronavirus

Affecting the entire world and its pace is the growing fear of the pandemic but UAE plans to launch its Mars orbiter, the “Hope Probe”, from Japan without any delays in July 2020.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre told The National that the launch date has not been changed and the Hope Probe is still due to leave Earth from the Tanegashima Space Centre mid-July. Whereas Russia’s next manned mission is due on April 9.

The month was chosen to take advantage of a narrow launch window – between July 14 and August 3 — when Earth and Mars align favourably for such missions.

Along with UAE, US and China also plan to launch their orbiters and rovers to Mars in July as well. Dan Lochmann, global marketing communications director for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, told The National he did not expect Covid-19 to affect the launch. “For the moment we think the impact on our operations will be minimal but will continue to monitor the situation. We are working hard to prepare for this important launch.”

Any delays in the launch are not an option as officials may have to wait 26 months for another launch
opportunity if this opportunity is missed. The Hope Probe was built by Emeriti engineers making a strong team of 150, it was developed in the US in partnership with three universities.

The orbiter was brought to the UAE in February and is currently at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. Its next destination will be Japan’s Tanegashima Island. “The Arab world’s first interplanetary mission! The Emirates Mars Mission ‘Hope Probe’ will leave for Mars in July 2020, on a mission to find answers to the unsolved mysteries about the red planet,” Emirates Mars Mission said on Twitter on Thursday.

The programme aims to collect information on Mars’ meteorological layers and study the causes of loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases, the two main constituents of water, from the upper layer of the Martian atmosphere. For the first time, a space exploration mission will be able to take a global picture of the Martian atmosphere.

Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills and Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, said, “We are approaching a historic Arab and Islamic achievement in space exploration with the final preparations to launch the Hope Probe. These preparations are being supported and guided by the wise leadership and by the sons of Zayed who seek to raise the UAE’s flag through this ambitious project, the largest of its kind in the region to explore another planet”.

“The main purpose of this mission was not to reach Mars, but to create a big disruptive change within the UAE to encourage youth to go into the sciences and engineering,” said Omran Sharaf, head of the mission. “Mars was a tool for a bigger objective.”

This mission is in cooperation with international academic partners from the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), University of California Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL), and Arizona State University (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration.