The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to launch its Emirates Mars Mission aka Hope Mars Mission on July 16 (July 17 as per Indian time). With the spacecraft’s launch to the Red Planet, UAE will become the first Arab country to achieve this feat. The spacecraft is expected to reach Mars’ orbit by February 2021. The objective of the mission is to collect data on the Martian atmosphere by studying the different layers of the atmosphere in different seasons. The launch is taking place two days after its initial launch date.
In a press conference, program manager at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder and scientist on the Hope mission, Pete Whitnell said that reaching Mars is a challenge because “It’s a very small target”. Whitnell explained the difficulty of the mission in layman terms as he told reporters, “It’s equivalent to an archer hitting a 21-millimeter target 1 kilometer away. So this is not for the faint of heart.”
The Project leader for the Hope Mission, Omran Sharaf seemed unperturbed about the result of the launch or whether it makes it successfully into Mars’ orbit or not. “It’s a big challenge. It’s risky. But it’s not about reaching there. For the Emirates, it’s more about the journey and the impact. Reaching there is one of the goals. But that doesn’t mean the mission has failed if we don’t manage to get there,” Sharaf said.
When and where to watch?
The historic event can be live-streamed on the UAE Space Agency website. The launch event will start at 01:45 AM IST on Friday. The live-streamed will be available in two languages, Arabic and English. You can also watch the launch without any commentary.
What to watch out for?
One thing you will notice as the Hope spacecraft launches is that it will from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, is that it will point away from Mars. It will be only after it gets separated from the launch vehicle (Mitsubishi MH-IIA rocket) it will use thrusters to perform adjustments in the Space and point towards its objective.
The spacecraft will separate from the launcher an hour after launch. It will take six to eight minutes for the spacecraft to deploy three solar panel wings which will provide up to 477 watts of power for charging its batteries. After 30 minutes of separation, the ground control will be able to establish contact with the spacecraft through an antenna in Madrid which is a part of Deep Space Network communication systems.
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