UAE’s Hope Probe captures stunning photos of Mars
Published on May 24, 2021 at 10.53
Here is an explainer on images that were relayed back recently.
The UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars has relayed back some stunning images in recent months. The probe has now commenced its two-year science mission.
The probe will yield the first complete picture of Mars’ lower and upper atmospheres throughout the day, night and seasons of a full Martian year. It will complete one orbit of the planet every 55 hours and will capture a full planetary data sample every nine days.
Here are the images it captured recently, explained:
The colored image from Emirates eXplorer Image (EXI) was generated using the camera’s red (635 nm) and ultraviolet (320 nm) filters. The red channel clearly shows the dark and light features of the Martian surface, while the water ice clouds stand out in the ultraviolet channel. The image was acquired on April 22. Of note is the northern polar cap, likely beginning its retreat as the temperatures rise, with distinct clouds encircling it. Also visible is a thin cloud layer as well as fairly continuous cloud cover to the west of Acidalia Planitia — the darker region on the upper centre of the image.
This EMIRS image was acquired on March 5 from an altitude of 15,000 km. In the surface temperature image (left), centered on the Tharsis region of Mars, dawn can be seen towards the right side. The low surface temperatures observed are due to the dusty nature of the Martian surface. An elevated nighttime atmospheric temperature at 25km altitude (right) is also observed over the Tharsis region.
This image was acquired by the EMUS instrument on May 10 and shows sunlight reflecting off the extended cloud of atomic hydrogen gas that surrounds the planet Mars. This is visible in the centre only as a dark disk hidden deep inside the fog of gas. The atomic hydrogen is formed by sunlight splitting water in the lower atmosphere, which then diffuses to the upper atmosphere and escapes to space. The hydrogen is thickest close to Mars, circling the planet with a bright ring of light, and becomes thinner and dimmer further away, with altitudes over 20,000km observed in this image. The full range of the image is too large for the instrument to view all at once, so it performed four separate scans across the planet, which have been overlaid in the asterisk pattern shown here to form a single image, with areas in black showing where no data was taken. The EMM spacecraft is the only mission at Mars capable of making this type of image, thanks to its high altitude orbit (20,000 km x 43,000 km).