February 10th, 2021

Hope spacecraft enters Mars orbit, making history for UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) made history on Tuesday when it became the first Arab nation to have a spacecraft reach Mars.

Following a seven-month flight to the red planet, the probe dubbed “Amal,” meaning “Hope,” entered Mars orbit after successfully completing a challenging braking maneuver that allowed it to be caught by Mars’ gravity.

The mission team tweeted confirmation of the spacecraft’s milestone with words: “7 years of work crowned with success!”

July 20th, 2020

The United Arab Emirates successfully launches its first spacecraft bound for Mars

A screen broadcasting the launch of the “Hope” Mars probe at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai. Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images

Today, the United Arab Emirates’ first interplanetary mission successfully took off from the southern tip of Japan, sending up a car-sized probe bound for the planet Mars. The launch marks the beginning of the country’s most ambitious space project yet, aimed at studying the weather on Mars as it evolves throughout the planet’s year.

The spacecraft, called Hope, took off on top of a Japanese H-IIA rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 6:58AM at the launch site (or 5:58PM ET this afternoon on the East Coast of the US). The probe will now spend the next seven months traveling through deep space, periodically correcting its course with a series of engine burns. Then sometime in February of 2021, it’ll attempt to put itself into an elongated orbit around Mars, where it will analyze the atmosphere and climate throughout the course of each Martian day.

For the UAE, the timing of this launch was absolutely critical. The UAE government conceived of this project in 2014 to inspire young Emirati teens, and as a bold way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding in December 2021. To ensure that Hope is in orbit by the anniversary, the team behind the spacecraft had to launch this summer, during a small window when Earth and Mars come closest together during their orbits around the Sun. This planetary alignment happens once every 26 months, so the UAE team had to launch this year to meet the 2021 deadline.

July 13th, 2020

Mars missions: NASA, China and the UAE launch new spacecraft this month

We’re not sending astronauts to Mars yet, but July marks a significant month for launches to the red planet, aimed at seeking signs of life.

With travel greatly restricted across the planet, you might feel a little jealous of the three robotic explorers scheduled to depart to Mars in the next month. From this week until mid-August, a bevy of spacecraft will depart Earth with a one-way ticket to the red planet, tasked with uncovering secrets about past life and the planet’s unusual atmosphere.

NASA will send the Perseverance rover, a next-gen wanderer that will explore an ancient lake bed, looking for evidence of alien life. The Chinese space agency is launching a triple threat: An orbiter, lander and rover are on a mission to make China just the third country to land on Mars. And then there’s Hope, the United Arab Emirates’ orbiter, set to study the Martian atmosphere like never before.

It might seem unusual so many Mars missions are launching in such a small amount of time, but I can assure you it’s not because the robots have achieved sentience and decided to flee the garbage fire that 2020 has become. It’s just physics.

August 2nd, 2019

UAE Mars probe will be Arab world first

The United Arab Emirates’ Space Agency’s first Mars probe, called Hope, is near completion.Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre/UAE Space Agency

The Arab world will launch its first mission to Mars in July 2020, the chair of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency, Ahmad Al Falasi, has said.

The UAE’s Hope probe will lift off from Japan and should reach Mars at the end of the following year, in time for the 50th anniversary of the emirates’ independence. It will be the first planetary-science mission from the Arab world.

The mission’s goals include understanding why Mars is losing its atmosphere by tracking the escape of hydrogen and oxygen, and building a bigger picture of the changing Martian atmosphere. In April, officials at the space agency said that 85% of the probe had been completed.

July 25th, 2019

4 Mars Missions Are One Year Away from Launching to the Red Planet in July 2020

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring Mars.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars exploration will get a big boost next summer.

Earth and the Red Planet align favorably for interplanetary travel just once every 26 months, for a few weeks at a time. The next such window opens in mid-July 2020, and four big-ticket missions aim to take full advantage.

These newcomers will push Mars’ robotic population into the double digits. There are currently two operational craft on the Martian surface (NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander) and six orbiters circling the planet (NASA’s MAVEN, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Europe’s Mars Express and the European-Russian ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter; and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission).

January 21st, 2019

UAE announces launch date of Mars probe

The UAE’s unmanned spacecraft to Mars will be launched during a tight window between July 14 to August 3, 2020, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) has announced.

The spacecraft, called Hope, has to be launched during that short time frame as there cannot be any unwanted interstellar conditions or objects interfering with the probe’s seven-month long journey to Mars. If the dates are missed, it could be another two to two and half-year wait for another launch opportunity.

It will take off from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. The launch date aims to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE.

The UAE’s mission to Mars, which falls under MBRSC’s Emirates Mars Mission programme (EMM), aims to study what caused water on the red planet to disappear in efforts to learn more about Earth’s past and future.

The spacecraft is currently undergoing an “intense testing phase” as the manufacturing stage has already been completed.

December 3rd, 2018

Five planned missions to Mars

An artist’s impression of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Rocket. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Space agencies around the world are set to explore the red planet, while Elon Musk has even grander plans.

October 18th, 2018

VP, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince launch Mars Science City

The Mars Science City structure will be the most sophisticated building the world, and will incorporate a realistic simulation environment replicating the conditions on the surface of Mars. – Dubai Media Office

Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have launched the Mars Science City project.

The AED 500 million-City will cover 1.9 million square feet, making it the largest space stimulation city ever built and will provide a viable and realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars.

The project, which was unveiled at the annual meetings for the UAE government in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, encompasses laboratories for food, energy and water, as well as agricultural testing and studies about food security in the future. The science city will also boast a museum that displays humanity’s greatest space achievements, including educational areas meant to engage young citizens with space, and inspire in them a passion for exploration and discovery.

The walls of the museum will be 3D printed, using sand from the Emirati desert.

August 16th, 2018

Op/Ed: From mosques on Mars to meeting Martians: the dilemmas awaiting Muslims in space

The UAE is planning to send four Emirati astronauts into space by 2021. Courtesy Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future

Different religions will need to dig deep into their theology to tackle the dilemmas their astronauts will face.

Islamic theology is well-suited to support space travel, exploration and habitation. After all, the Quran includes the verse: “All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds.” In addition, the Quran dangles the challenge for humanity to cut through the boundaries of inner space and reach other planets and galaxies. It employs imagery that hints at rockets and space travel – but only with Divine permission.

If it’s true that within the next century humanity will be living on Mars, you might want to build a mosque. Experts are already designing homes that can be 3D printed once people arrive on Mars, to save on transportation. I can envisage 3D printed mosques with rotating prayer spaces that constantly adjust themselves to remain pointed at Makkah.

The most fascinating questions will be ethical ones about interactions with other life forms. What’s the right etiquette when you meet a Martian? Could they have a religion? Could you marry one?

October 26th, 2016

UAE Mars Mission: Laying the foundation of a space industry

Emirati engineers working on the flight model of KhalifaSat. Image Credit: MBRSC

Emirati engineers working on the flight model of KhalifaSat. Image Credit: MBRSC

Just a little over a year since the UAE announced its Mars mission, interest in space science has started gathering momentum among younger Emiratis.

With the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) starting development of its third satellite — KhalifaSat, due for launch in 2018 — the interest will only grow.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced last year that the UAE would send the first Arab probe to Mars to create mankind’s first integrated model of the Martian atmosphere.

To be launched in July 2020, the unmanned probe called Al Amal (Arabic for hope) will go an approximately 200-day journey. It is expected to enter Mars’ orbit in the first quarter of 2021, in time for the UAE’s 50th National Day.

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