Hope probe: Sheikh Mohammed tweets latest Mars photo

Web Report/Dubai
Filed on December 3, 2020
Reuters file photo

135 million km to go before it reaches Red Planet.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Thursday tweeted a photo of Mars taken by the country’s Hope probe.

Now past its halfway mark, Hope has only 135 million km to go before it enters the Martian orbit on February 9, 2021, Sheikh Mohammed tweeted. The probe’s arrival date was first revealed in November. It will reach Mars at exactly 7.42pm.

Cruise phase

Hope is currently in its cruise phase. During this time, the operations team at the ground station at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai periodically monitors the state of the probe. It is in contact with the spacecraft two to three times a week, to check the subsystems health, calibrate the interments, and understand its performance.

This phase also includes monitoring the probe’s flight path by conducting a series of trajectory correction manoeuvres (TCMs). The project team conducted two successful manoeuvres previously, in addition to a more recent one, which is the third in the probe’s trip to Mars. Currently the team is back to the 24-hour contact schedule to prepare for the next phase.

Following the cruise phase, the probe will enter the mission orbit insertion (MOI) phase. At this time, the team will focus on safely entering a capture orbit around Mars. This process requires slowing down the probe, and nearly 50 per cent of the fuel will be used to do so.

The transition to science phase begins at the end of MOI and will last until the observatory is in an acceptable science orbit and the commissioning is complete. The spacecraft’s capture orbit will take it as close as 1,000km above Mars’ surface.

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