Hope, perseverance and the quest for heavenly truth

The heavens beckoned, and the UAE headed to Mars for seven months.

Space odysseys and epic inter-planetary journeys are special for they spark the imagination of the masses. It takes spirit to embark on these journeys in the quest from a greater truth.

Viewed in this context, the UAE’s mission to Mars is not just about the orbital revolution of a satellite, it is intended to spark a scientific revolution, beyond the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is currently being witnessed in the country.

Such a journey also symbolises a space-age evolution of sorts for the country. No Arab nation has undertaken such a long trip before — a leap of faith that signifies a confidence in the UAE’s scientific prowess in another sphere, or on another planet.

On such odysseys, life comes full circle; we encircle the unknowns and are captivated by spatial forces that are unpredictable and function in different gravities, drawing us into their orbital embrace. There’s a certain, inexplicable excitement about the closeness of other planets like Mars that is only 493 million kilometres away.

Human zeal, ambition and endeavour have made it possible to bridge great planetary distances in an age of social distancing during an earthly crisis, and speaks volumes about the potential of human civilization.

It is not about being beaten back but pushing further into the many unknowns that beguile us. And the UAE has made it count for every human who is struggling to fend off a coronavirus pandemic here on Earth, our blue planet, and the way mortals are now feeling within its confines, at home or abroad.

Earth-bound travel may have been curbed, restricted and banned for more than a year by the spread of a pathogen, but that did not deter the UAE from reaching for the Red Planet. This epic journey has given vent to a different planetary freedom, to discover, recover from our earthly woes, even for a brief moment. We soak in the experience and breath freely again, away from the dreaded microbe that lingers like an alien in earth’s atmosphere.

The heavens beckoned, and the UAE headed to Mars for seven months. And here we are, in Martian orbit, learning, breathing in the excitement, discovering, encircling and, hopefully returning for more experiences in the circle of life.

Indeed, this long journey carried the aspirations of a young nation that is unafraid to explore beyond its realm during uncertain times. What the UAE has done is significant in that it Hopes to restore confidence among people on Earth.

Back in 2014, such a Mars mission was the speck of an idea. That idea grew into epic proportions when the country announced plans to build a colony on Mars by 2117, which sounded fictional to some. But the country sent a man into space in 2019 and the Hope Probe (Amal) to the Red Planet lifted off last year during the peak of the pandemic.

Hope’s odyssey is set to revolutionise how the UAE considers its future in space and on other planets. It is the first spacecraft to reach Mars’ orbit among a trio of satellites. A Chinese orbiter-rover named Tianwen (Heavenly Truth) arrived on Wednesday. An American spacecraft named Perseverance will follow on Feb 18.

Let’s Hope humanity’s Perseverance pays off and we find Heavenly Truth on this epic, historic journey to the Red Planet. — allan@khaleejtimes.com

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