UAE’s Spacecraft Enters Martian Orbit After Seven-Month Trip


The United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft entered Martian orbit, making it the fifth agency to successfully reach the red planet’s gravitational zone.

The probe arrived at 7:57 p.m. UAE time on Tuesday, according to a statement issued after confirmation reached Earth. That followed the most critical half-hour in its seven-month journey, requiring a deceleration to just 18,000 kilometers per hour (11,185 miles per hour) from 121,000 kph and a reliance on autonomous self-correcting systems.

“The Martian insertion sequence went exactly as planned, to the dot,” Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

UAE’s Spacecraft Enters Martian Orbit After Seven-Month Trip

The Hope project marks the UAE’s first excursion into deep space, part of the Gulf nation’s efforts to ease a dependence on oil and enhance international standing. The country established a Space Agency in 2014, sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station five years later, and plans to send an unmanned spaceship to the moon in 2024.

Information gathered from the Mars mission will help develop the country’s space sector, Al Amiri said. “For us, that’s what’s important. Establishing a vibrant space industry in the country over the course of the next five years is our next target.”

The probe is a 1,350-kilogram (1.5-ton) orbiter designed as a weather satellite to analyze the dynamic aspects of the atmosphere across the entire planet. The two-year mission also aims to study hydrogen and oxygen in Mars’s upper atmosphere and why those elements are lost to space.

UAE’s probe is the first of three Mars missions in the coming days. On Wednesday, China’s Tianwen-1 mission will start ticking off an audacious to-do list, which includes placing a vehicle on the surface. And next week, NASA will attempt to land its largest rover yet -- an SUV-sized behemoth -- in an ancient lake bed.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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