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Abu Dhabi, July 20, 2020
The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Hope probe took off from Japan this morning to begin an epic journey to Mars, marking the first Arab inter-planetary space mission and a landmark moment for the country and the Arab world.
The probe lifted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre at 01:58 hours Monday morning (UAE time) and it was then successfully released from the rocket at 02:55 hours, and its solar panels were deployed at 03:00 hours, WAM, the official Emirates news agency said.
Hope Probe, or Al Amal in Arabic, is expected to reach Mars' orbit in about 200 days from and begin its mission to study the Red Planet’s atmosphere, the agency said.
Later in the morning, the UAE Space Agency and Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre announced that the Ground Control station located in the Al Khawaneej area of Dubai had successfully received the first transmission from the Hope Probe at 03:10 am, Monday.
"The nation held its breath on Sunday, along with the entire region, as the Probe took off from Land of Rising Sun in Japan, aboard a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket in the first mission to the red planet by any West Asian, Arab or Muslim majority country," WAM said.
The probe is expected to enter Mars' orbit in the first quarter of 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the UAE.
"The probe will travel 493 million kilometers into space in a journey that will take seven months, and will orbit the Red Planet for one full Martian year of 687 days to provide the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere. The Hope probe will be the first to study the Martian climate throughout daily and seasonal cycles. It will observe the weather phenomena in Mars such as the massive famous dust storms that have been known to engulf the Red Planet, as compared to the short and localized dust storms on earth.
"The Mars Hope probe will examine the interaction between the upper and lower layers of the Martian atmosphere and causes of the Red Planet’s surface corrosion, as well as study why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere," the WAM report said.
Exploring connections between today’s Martian weather and the ancient climate of the Red Planet will give deeper insights into the past and future of Earth and the potential of life on Mars and other distant planets, it said.
The probe will gather and send back new Mars data to the Science Data Center in the UAE via different ground stations spread around the world. The data will be catalogued and analyzed by the Emirates Mars Mission science team, and shared for free with the international Mars science community as a service to human knowledge.
The insights and data gained from understanding the Martian climate will add new dimensions to human knowledge about how atmospheres work, which will help scientists and researchers evaluate distant worlds for conditions that might support life. Understanding the geographical and climate changes of Mars and the other planets will help us gain deeper insights to find solutions for key challenges facing mankind on earth, the report said.
The Hope Mars Mission is considered the biggest strategic and scientific national initiative announced by UAE’s President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice-President and Prime Minnister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2014.
"The Ground Control Team is monitoring the functions of the Probe to ensure that all systems are working properly," WAM said.
The launch of the probe had been postponed twice due to inclement weather.
A single orbit around Mars will take the probe 55 hours.