This past week, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) Hope probe delivered the very first photo of Mars this week. The photo is quite a dazzling image of the still mysterious red planet.
In many ways, Mars is the place to be this February, as two spacecraft have already entered the red planet’s orbit. The United Arab Emirates was the first spacecraft to make the journey. It became the fifth country to reach Earth’s dust-laden neighbor. The second spacecraft to reach Mars this week was China’s Tianwen-1, which entered into Martian orbit a day later on February 10.
We have now seen some of the images snapped by the Hope during its very first Arab interplanetary mission, however, compared to what the spacecraft delivered Sunday, there has never been anything like it. The camera built onto the probe, known officially as the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), captured a photo from about 15,5000 miles away.
This picturesque display of Mars shows it as a dark, yellow semi-circle, pressed up against the pitch-black background of space.
We can see some of the planet’s most prominent features in this image, including Olympus Mons, the largest known volcano in the solar system today, which appears to be peaking out just above the sunlight’s line, and Tharis Montes, three other volcanoes that poke out just above the dusty sky.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto controller of the UAE, tweeted a picture of Mars snapped by the probe. this past Sunday.
His Tweet read, “The transmission of the Hope Probe’s first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration.”
The hope for the Al Amal mission is that the probe is able to provide one of the most complete photos of the Martian planet as we know it. The probe carries a versatile suite of instruments beyond the EXI camera, including an infrared spectrometer and an ultraviolet spectrometer.
With the detail available in these technological observations, researchers will be able to better understand the global circulation mechanisms of Mars’ lower atmosphere and determine how particles escape from Mars’ gravity.
While the point of the mission is to understand Martian Weather secrets, the UAE wants to inspire its youth as well.
The UAE venture was timed quite nicely, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the seven emirates unification. “Hope” is set to orbit Mars for at least a full Martian year (687 days), all while using its various onboard instruments to collect data.
“We wanted to arrive at Mars; (I’m) really grateful, and it’s like a weight of seven years has been lifted from my shoulders,” said Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, UAE minister of state for advanced technology and chair of the UAE Space Agency.
The craft is a big triumph for this small gulf nation.
As for when the probe will begin transmitting data back to the Earth for scientists around the world to study, humans will have to wait until around September 2021.