KT Explains: UAE Hope probe's 7-month journey to Mars

KT Explains, UAE, Hope Probe, 7-month journey, Mars

Dubai - Over seven months, the probe is monitored constantly by the operations team on Earth.


A Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 20 Jul 2020, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Jul 2020, 8:58 AM

The UAE's Hope probe that blasted off to Mars on Monday will cruise at 121,000km/hr for seven months to reach its Martian orbit in February 2021 - the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the UAE's formation. Here is how the journey will unfold.

Status report: What has happened so far
>Hope has separated from its launch vehicle
>Its solar panels have been deployed to charge its batteries
>It has transmitted its first signal
>It is on a trajectory towards Mars
To infinity and beyond
>Over seven months, the probe is monitored constantly by the operations team on Earth
>Instruments are turned on at this time and calibrated using stars to check that they are functioning well and ready to operate upon arrival in Mars' orbit.

Hello, Mars
>At over 121,000km/h, the probe will be approaching Mars at a speed that may cause it to slingshot around the Red Planet and deep into space if it isn't slowed down
>Delta V thrusters are fired for about 30 minutes to burn nearly half the fuel and slow the probe down to about 18,000km/h
>The entire operation will be completed 100% autonomously, as radio signals from Mars take 13-26 minutes to travel to Earth, thereby preventing the ground team from intervening
>Once the Mars Orbit Insertion is completed, the Hope Probe will 'go dark' - eclipsed by Mars
>Communication with the probe will only be re-established once it emerges from the dark side of Mars and the first contact is potentially received from the ground station in Spain
>Instruments on the probe continue to be tested, and manoeuvres are performed to position it for science observations.

Switching orbits
>In the Capture Orbit (an elliptical orbit lasting 40 hours), the Hope probe can get as close as 1,000km above Mars' surface and as far as 49,380km away from it
>The first image of Mars will be taken and transmitted to the Mission Operation Centre
>Daily contact is scheduled with the team on Earth, enabling quick command sequence uploads and telemetry receipt
>After six weeks of testing and validation, the Hope probe will move into the Science Orbit, which ranges between 20,000-43,000km and spans 55 hours per circuit
> Contact with Mission Operation Centre is limited to 6-8 hours, twice a week, during which time the probe is expected to transfer over 1TB of novel data on Martian atmosphere.

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