UAE: Professor develops new Mars atlas with Hope Probe data

The map shows how the Red Planet changes throughout the day and across seasons


Nandini Sircar

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Reuters file for illustrative purposes
Reuters file for illustrative purposes

Published: Sat 22 Jan 2022, 10:35 AM

Last updated: Sat 22 Jan 2022, 10:35 PM

A professor at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has used the UAE's Hope Probe data to create a new atlas of Mars.

Dr Dimitra Atri, a research scientist at the NYUAD Centre for Space Science, told Khaleej Times that the map aims to show how the Red Planet changes over time and across seasons. An interactive online version of the map will be released soon.

The initial version of the atlas includes findings from the Al Amal spacecraft delineating regions of the rocky planet in high resolution.

"The atlas of Mars is a compilation of a number of detailed maps covering the entire planet," he said. "It is made exclusively from the observation by the UAE's Hope Probe mission and will provide a synoptic view of the planet, how it changes throughout the day and across seasons."

In addition to the online interactive version, there are also more plans to upgrade the initial atlas and release new editions.

"We plan to update the atlas periodically as new data from the Hope Probe arrives," Dr Atri said. "The second version will have data on Martian clouds, dust and auroras. It will also have more images and thus, more maps."

Until the last quarter of 2021, the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe has approximately provided 110 gigabytes of data that have already been shared freely with scientific organisations around the world.

Shedding light on future plans, Dr Atri said: "We also plan to release an online interactive version of the map. It will be the first atlas of Mars to document both diurnal and seasonal changes throughout the planet, which wasn't possible earlier. Hope Probe’s unique orbit allows us to see the full disk of the planet at once, which is ideal for making this atlas.”

Hope completes one orbit of the planet every 55 hours and captures a full planetary data sample every nine days.

The probe’s three instruments - Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), Emirates Exploration Imager [high resolution camera (EXI)] and The Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) - together provide a unique insight into Martian weather and links to atmospheric escape processes.

Dr Atri, who has been involved with the mission and its research for an extended period of time now, underlines this atlas will greatly benefit pupils and space enthusiasts everywhere.


"A Mars atlas is a great way to learn about the planet both for students and the general public. We believe that it is a great tool to get the youth interested in science and pursue a career in STEM disciplines," he said.

One of the main objectives of the NYUAD Centre for Space Science is to support the country’s efforts in space.

They also collaborate with the UAE Space Agency to organise scientific talks and workshops and aim to engage local students and scholars in various scientific activities at NYUAD and connect with researchers from all over the globe.

“We have the Mars Research Group, which studies how solar activity impacts the atmosphere of Mars, how astronauts would survive on the planet and the possibility of finding life," he said. "We work with several Nasa missions and are analysing data from the Hope mission to understand how Mars lost most of its atmosphere.”

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