Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Hope Has Arrived at Mars!

A computer-generated screenshot of the United Arab Emirates' Hope spacecraft entering orbit around Mars.
Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre

Congratulations to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the successful arrival of its Hope spacecraft at Mars earlier today! This robotic orbiter, which is the centerpiece of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), launched from Japan on July 19, 2020...traveling more than 480 million kilometers (298 million miles) across the vastness of space before conducting a 27-minute engine burn that occurred from 7:30 AM to 7:57 AM, Pacific Standard Time (PST), to allow Hope to enter a highly-elliptical orbit around the Red Planet. Confirmation of a successful burn didn't reach mission control at Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, Dubai, till 11 minutes later.

With the Mars Orbit Insertion maneuver now out of the way, the EMM team will prep the spacecraft for science data-gathering activities...which is scheduled to begin in May. What a historic day for the Arab world and space exploration in general! Along with being the only Middle Eastern nation to ever lead an interplanetary mission (as well as being the second country, besides India, to successfully arrive at the Red Planet on the first try), the UAE is the fifth entity—behind the United States, Russia, the European Union and India, respectively—to place a probe into orbit around Mars since the dawn of the Space Age.

A computer-generated screenshot showing the Mars 2020 spacecraft's current position from the Red Planet...on February 9, 2021.

Nine days from now, Hope will hopefully be joined by the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter when their Mars 2020 spacecraft arrives at the Red Planet! The landing is set to take place at 12:55 PM, PST (3:55 PM, EST), on February 18. Click here to see where NASA's latest Mars explorer currently is in space.

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