Tuesday, November 29, 2022

UAE’s ‘Hope’ probe enters Mars orbit in first for Arab world

The United Arab Emirates’ ‘Hope’ probe on Monday successfully entered Mars’ orbit, making history as the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

The probe is designed to reveal the secrets of Martian weather, but the UAE also wants it to serve as an inspiration for the region’s youth. ‘To the people of the UAE, to the Arab and Muslim nations, we announce the succesful arrival to Mars’ orbit. Praise be to God,’ said Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager.

Officials at mission control broke into applause, visibly relieved after a tense half-hour as the probe carried out a ‘burn’ to slow itself enough to be pulled in by Martian gravity, in what was the most perilous stage of the journey.

Hope is the first of three spacecraft to arrive at the Red Planet this month after China and the US also launched missions in July, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.

The UAE’s venture is also timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the nation’s seven emirates. ‘What you have accomplished is an honour for you, and an honour for the nation. I want to congratulate you,’ said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed after entering the control room.

The probe, named ‘Al-Amal’, Arabic for ‘Hope’ rotated and fired all six of its powerful thrusters to dramatically slow its average cruising speed of 121,000 kilometres per hour to about 18,000 kph.

As the clock ticked down, Dubai’s needle-shaped Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, lit up in red with blue laser lights, and erupted into a light and fountain show with news of the success. Landmarks across the Gulf state have been illuminated in red at night and government accounts and police patrol cars emblazoned with the #ArabstoMars hashtag.

While the probe is designed to provide a comprehensive image of the planet’s weather dynamics, it is also a step towards a much more ambitious goal — building a human settlement on Mars within 100 years.

Source: The News

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