Dubai airshow unveils Hope spacecraft prototype
Dubai - Hope will be launched in July 2020 as part of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM)
A historical display took place on Sunday during the opening day of Dubai Airshow, where the public got a first look at a prototype of UAE's first ever spacecraft that will orbit Mars.
The spacecraft, called Hope, will be launched in July 2020 as part of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) and will coincide with UAE's 50th anniversary. It will orbit the Red Planet and gather climate and atmosphere data of the planet and the date will be shared for free with the public.
The project was announced in July 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates. More than three years later, at the first day of the Dubai Airshow 2017, a model of the EMM's spacecraft was revealed.
"It took a few months to build the model. It wasn't easy because you want to build something that looks like a space craft, but you can't really put all of the details into the model," the project manager at EMM, Omran Sharaf, told Khaleej Times. "We tried making it as close as possible to the actual spacecraft and what it's going to look like."
Hope will have navigation sensors installed, including star trackers and sun sensors, to successfully reach Mars' orbit. It will weigh 1,500kg with fuel and will have three extendable 600W solar panels. The solar panels will be activated repeatedly to charge the batteries Hope's batteries.
The spacecraft will use a digital camera that will send high-resolution colour images to the ground station on Earth. Hope's infra-red spectrometer will study Mars' temperature patterns, ice, water vapour and dust in the atmosphere. The ultraviolet spectrometer will study the upper atmosphere and traces of oxygen and hydrogen further out into space.
Sharaf revealed that the team at EMM has completed the design phase of the project and is currently in the manufacturing phase.
"We are manufacturing the different components of the aircraft, so we are testing and verifying the aircrafts. We are in the engineering model phase," he said. "We have a little less than three years to meet our deadline, because we have to launch by July 2020."
Sharaf added that the Dubai Airshow was good opportunity for EMM to show the progress of the mission.
He said the public "always asked" what the spacecraft would look like, which is one of the reasons that inspired them to build a model of Hope, so that it would give the public an idea.
"This is the first time that we displayed the model for the Emirates Mars mission, the Hope probe," Sharaf said. "We decided to do it during the air show because it's a very important event for us. It shows you how the probe is going to look like. It's a one to one scale model. It gives an idea to the visitors of the air show the capabilities of the UAE of building space crafts."