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UAE's Hope probe 'healthy' and cruising towards Mars: Official

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on July 21, 2020 | Last updated on July 21, 2020 at 06.18 am
UAE, Hope probe, healthy, cruising, Mars, Official

(Picture retrieved from @HopeMarsMission/Twitter)

In under an hour after take-off, the spacecraft separated from its launch vehicle.

The UAE's Hope probe is "healthy and successfully cruising towards Mars", a top official has said. Omran Sharaf, Project Manager, Emirates Mars Mission, said: "We received the first signal from the spacecraft around 3.10am. This signal was very important for us because it symbolises the start of our journey towards Mars."

The official was addressing the first press conference as Hope reached its space orbit in just over an hour after it took off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre in the early hours of Monday.

In under an hour after take-off, the spacecraft separated from its launch vehicle. Its solar panels were deployed so as to charge the probe's batteries. Soon after, it transmitted its first signal.

The official added that the team is continuously receiving signals from the spacecraft.

"The team is operating on a 24/7 basis now. For two weeks, we are going to have a 24-hour monitoring of the spacecraft. (It all) depends on how quickly we can get through the initial testing and other phases.

"If we finish it earlier, say for instance within a week with a 24/7 approach, then after two weeks, we will switch to three or two contacts per week."

The Arab world's first interplanetary mission is the first of three international missions to the Red Planet this summer.

Monitoring Hope's health

Sharaf talked about the various yardsticks that are used to monitor and analyse the health of a spacecraft. "We look at the frequencies, the temperature, software, etc. When it comes to the solar panels, (we look at) the voltages and currents, charging of the batteries, response rate of the censors..."

Potential obstacles

Sharaf said ground control teams across the world work together as the spacecraft continues to soar beyond the Earth's gravitation.

"The spacecraft will be trekking through deep space for seven months. You have to make sure that the spacecraft is on the right track. There is no GPS system around or beyond Earth or around Mars. So to monitor this, you have to use tools from different ground stations around the world to identify its location and trajectory. This is based on mathematical equations ... you will readjust or realign your spacecraft to manoeuvre or to cruise towards the right direction. We have trajectory correction manoeuvres for that," he added.

nandini@khaleejtimes.com 


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