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UAE: Hope Probe to move into Mars science orbit ahead of schedule

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on March 9, 2021

The probe has so far captured over 825 images of Mars using its three instruments, generating some 30 GB of novel data on Mars’ atmospheric makeup.

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) team has completed its commissioning and testing phase and the Hope Probe is ready to transition into the science orbit, experts announced on Tuesday.

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The completion of testing is ahead of schedule, meaning, the transition to science manoeuvres will take place earlier than planned for the Arab world's first interplanetary exploration.

EMM Project Director Omran Sharaf said, “We have completed 21 orbits of Mars since we arrived at the Red Planet on the evening of February 9. In that time, we’ve been busy calibrating the Hope Probe’s three instruments, commissioning and testing the spacecraft’s instrumentation subsystems, and using every opportunity to gather data while we’ve been in our capture orbit.”

The Hope probe’s has been travelling as close as 1,063 kilometres to Mars’ planetary surface and as far away as 42,461 kilometres in its elliptical capture orbit.

The probe has so far captured over 825 images of Mars using its three instruments, generating some 30 GB of novel data on Mars’ atmospheric makeup.

Elaborating, EMM Science Lead Hessa Al Matroushi said, “We have already amassed a library of some 280,000 spectra of Mars using the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) alone. We have also been able to take a range of highly detailed images of the planet using our imager, helped by the fact that when we’re at our closest point in our orbit, we’re on the sunny side of Mars. We’re very excited indeed now to be moving to our science orbit and starting the flow of planetary data we aim to gather over the coming Martian year.”

The Hope Probe will commence the first of two planned Transitions to Science Manoeuvres (TSMs) on March 22, with the second to follow on April 6.

A third manoeuvre, originally planned by the team, is not expected to be required.

Sharaf added, “Our Mars Orbit Insertion was highly successful and precisely targeted and this has allowed us to plan a reduction in TSMs (Transcranial static magnetic field stimulation) and also to move to our science orbit ahead of schedule. We will commence science data gathering earlier in April than we had originally planned and I think it’s fair to say there is huge excitement now in our science team and among Mars scientists around the world.”





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