As written in a previous article, the United Arab Emirates has spent the last 6 years preparing for its launch to Mars. Yesterday that vision became a reality.
At 5:58 PM EST the space probe ‘Hope’ launched, attached to a ship off the southern tip of Japan. This venture started back towards the end of 2013 when the President of the UAE announced a plan to celebrate the country’s 50th Anniversary by having a presence on Mars. The United Arab Emirates turns 50 next December.
What’s next for Hope? The probe will spend the next 7 months traveling through space. The craft will need to make the odd course correction, reaching its destination sometime this coming February. Hope will insert itself into Mars’ orbit and will spend its time gathering critical data about the planet’s lower atmosphere and climate. The end goal is to measure how the planet changes throughout its year with respect to climate and environment.
The UAE did its homework for this launch. They have spent the last several years partnering with a number of institutions around the world to aid them in this project. From Arizona State to Berkley and the University of California, the UAE wanted to make sure that they gathered the best minds they could to help them on this venture. The government gave their team a 200 million dollar budget to build the craft and were explicit that this was to be built and not purchased. 6 years and a lot of work later this concept has become a reality.
Hope’s launch signals a small race to the red planet. It won’t be too long before Chine joins in, launching July 23rd. A week later will see NASA send up its rover named “Perseverance”. With Earth and Mars as close to each other as they will be for the next two years, there is a short window for all three contenders to work with.