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Hope probe to Mars all set for launch on July 15

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on July 3, 2020 | Last updated on July 3, 2020 at 06.39 am
Emirates Mars Mission, Hope probe, Mars, launch, July 15,

((Image credit: MBRSC/Twitter))

The UAE has completed an important milestone in the space campaign, which is the fuelling of the space craft.

With the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission less than a couple of weeks away, the spacecraft that will carry the UAE's Hope probe to outer space has already been fuelled, it was announced on Thursday.

At a virtual briefing by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), officials said scientists are busy giving finishing touches to the Hope Mars Mission, which will give mankind a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere once the UAE's indigenous probe reaches the Red Planet's orbit in 2021.

Dr Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director-General of the UAE Space Agency, along with space engineers associated with the project shed light on how the rocket is already fuelled and ready to be placed in the fairing - an external structure that protects the spacecraft while on the rocket.

Omran Sharaf, director of the Emirates Mars Mission, said: "The UAE has completed an important milestone in the space campaign, which is the fuelling of the space craft. The current stage is to capsulate the space craft into the fairing. This should be completed by early next week. After that it will be placed in the rocket so that the testing and the monitoring of the spacecraft continue till the day we launch."

Covid-19 challenges

Explaining how Covid-19 posed further impediments for the team Sharaf, added: "Covid-19 definitely put our mission at a big risk. For the past six years we've been preparing for this. It posed a risk of pushing the mission by two years because we didn't know that if travel and logistic restrictions were imposed whether we would be able to send it to the launch site. So the past few months have been tough. But the team reacted earlier by trying to mitigate these risks before the airports and countries started shutting down. And before there was an indication this might be happening, we switched to the worst case scenario and started planning accordingly."

Engineers in Japan will carry out a series of spacecraft, rocket and weather-related checks over the next few days before the launch of the Hope spacecraft.

Suhail AlDhafri, deputy project manager of the mission and spacecraft lead, described what the launch at Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan will be like.

He is one of about 15 other engineers who are on ground at the launch site, preparing for the lift off that will take place at 12.51am, UAE time on July 15.

One of the important factors that determine whether the launch will go ahead will be the weather conditions on the subtropical island.

AlDhafri said: "We cannot foresee the launch weather from today but we will be reviewing the last three days before the launch and will get an update on the status before the launch."

Mission creates momentum for regional space awareness

Dr Al Ahbabi said that with this mission, the momentum in the region for space awareness will continue not only among young Emiratis but also among other youngsters in the Arab world.

"Space is always an amazing topic for everyone, not just young people, not only in the UAE but across the world. We are lucky today the UAE has its own astronauts Hazzas AlMansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi and they visit schools, engaging and inspiring everyone. Through these programmes like Mars mission and other similar missions in the space sector, we will have a great impact on young people to take up STEM education. They may later on choose engineering and maybe even space science."

Science community internationally to benefit from mission

Elucidating the similarities in atmospheric composition between Mars and Earth, scientists aver that the study to be conducted by Hope probe will help them understand what led to the changes in Mars and its triggers that might help Earth in the future.

Mariam Alshamshi, Instrument Science Lead- Science Team, Emirates Mars Missionsaid: "From now till the launch, we have developed tools that'll aid the analysis and algorithms that will be needed once our data comes in. Our role is to collect this data, analyse and verify them making sure that they are ready to be shared with the whole science community internationally. The data will be available to everyone and they will be kept in a platform called Emirates Science Data Centre and it will be accessible to any researcher or interested party to answer questions with regards to the Mars atmosphere." 

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