The three new visitors to Mars will arrive on their first Tuesday when a robotic probe called Hope, the first interplanetary mission undertaken by an Arab nation, takes off.
For the people of the UAE, the sheer reach has become a pride. Over the weekend, many prominent buildings and monuments of the rich, approximately Maine-sized oil country of the country were illuminated in red in honor of Mars, the red planet.
“From the perspective of the UAE government, 90 percent of this mission has been successfully accomplished,” said Omran Sharaf, Hope’s project manager.
For the remaining 10 percent, there’s now little to do but watch and wait for the spaceship to execute instructions already loaded into its computer.
Sarah al-Amiri, who leads the scientific part of the mission, said she felt a wide range of emotions when the spacecraft was launched last summer. But now that it’s approaching Mars, “It will further enhance them,” he said.
Once in orbit, the spacecraft can begin to study the atmosphere and weather of the red planet.
But if the spacecraft is missing Mars due to some problem and sails into the Solar System, this will probably be the end of the mission. “If he doesn’t arrive, he won’t arrive,” Ms. al-Amiri said.
Bruce Jakosky, a Colo. A fellow at Boulder’s Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory, where the Emirati probe was built, said mission leaders had planned different scenarios.
“If something fails, the team will stand by and do their best to recover from it,” he said on Dubai One TV network on Tuesday.
At 7:42 p.m. on Tuesday in the UAE – at 10:42 p.m. Eastern Time – the commanders of the Dubai Mission’s operations center will receive information from the spacecraft that it has begun firing explosives to slow down and allow it to fall to the throne. the gravity of Mars.
Since it takes 11 minutes for the radio signal to land on Mars, the thrust will actually start 11 minutes earlier, and if anything goes wrong, it will be too late.
The UAE Space Agency will begin online transmission of the maneuver at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Or you can watch it in the video player above.
Twenty-seven minutes later, the engines stop. Five minutes after the end of the shooting, the spacecraft passes behind Mars and will be in contact for 15 minutes. When it reappears, the controllers can confirm that it is traveling in a very elliptical way around Mars.
The mission spends two years studying how dust storms and other weather conditions near the surface affect the rate of Martian air leaking into space.
A day after the Hope maneuver, a Chinese spaceship, the Tianwen-1, must also be orbiting Mars. The Chinese mission is holding a landing plane and a rover to explore a large impact basin called the Utopia Planitia, but these are only allowed to detach from the runway in May and surface.
Then next Thursday, NASA’s latest rover, Perseverance, will also arrive on Mars. Without getting into orbit for the first time, it instead slows rapidly from 12,000 miles per hour to the full station on the surface of Mars, which NASA calls “seven minutes of terror”.
The target of perseverance is the Jezero Crater, a parched lake that appears to be a place where signs of life can be preserved if life strikes on Mars.
All three missions were launched last July to take advantage of the 26-month favorable coordination between Earth and Mars.
While NASA has decades of experience launching spacecraft to other planets, and China has successfully sent a series of robot missions to the moon in recent years, the UAE is considered a novice in planetary science.
The Hope mission is an unusual collaboration between the UAE and the University of Colorado’s research institute, the Atmospheric and Space Physics Laboratory, which has been working on space missions for more than half a century.
Although the spacecraft was built in Colorado, many engineers from the United Arab Emirates spent years there and gained experience while working with their more experienced American counterparts.
Ms Al-Amiri said the mission sparked a wider interest in space, with people in the UAE asking questions about why communication between Earth and Mars is delayed and why it is difficult to get on track.
“It was excellent to continue scientific communication with the general public and to gain an understanding in an area that was largely ignored, not only within the country but also within the region,” Ms al-Amiri said. – It wasn’t a topic of conversation.
With no missiles or launchers in the UAE either, the Hope spacecraft traveled to Japan to take off into space and launched in July with an H-IIA missile built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited.
In the seven months since then, the spacecraft, which weighs about 3,000 pounds and is about an SUV, has traveled 300 million miles. The mission controllers were able to tell the last two planned orbital corrections because the spacecraft remained exactly at the target.
Along the way, the spaceship was able to make some bonus scientific observations. In one, Hope and BepiColombo, a joint European-Japanese spacecraft spiraling towards Mercury, turned to face each other and made identical measurements of the hydrogen between the two spacecraft. This should help scientists working on both missions to calibrate the instruments and learn new information about the Solar System.
Another series of observations attempted to track interplanetary dusts.
“The opportunity has emerged and we know that these data sets are quite rare for scientists studying this type of science, so we hope to publish it soon and benefit the community,” Ms al-Amiri said.