How the UAE continued to build 'Hope' amid the pandemic

Staff Report/Dubai
Filed on July 1, 2020 | Last updated on July 2, 2020 at 12.28 am
Mars hope probe, sheikh mohammed, sheikh hamdan

The probe is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.

With the UAE's Hope probe launch just a couple of weeks away, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday beamed inspiration and shed light on what the mission means for the country.

"Hope Probe is an accomplishment for every Arab, a source of pride for every Emirati, and a path-breaking achievement for our engineers," Sheikh Mohammed said, as he reviewed the final preparations for the launch on July 15. 

It is also a testament to the UAE's determination to overcome the impossible. Despite all the challenges arising from the global Covid-19 crisis, the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) remained on track.

The Hope probe is scheduled to take off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre at exactly 00:51:27 UAE time on July 15. And it is expected to reach the Red Planet in February 2021, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Emirates' union in 1971. Currently, it is undergoing extensive testing operations at the launch station in Japan, under the supervision of Emirati engineers.

Hope mission a defining moment for UAE: Sheikh Mohammed

"The Hope Probe embodies the culture of possibilities deeply rooted in the UAE's approach, philosophy and journey of accelerating development since the foundation," Sheikh Mohammed said, as he reviewed the final preparations for the probe's launch.

He met the team behind the mission, and hailed all the hard work of Emirati engineers. This achievement, the UAE Vice-President said, is not only for the Emirates but for every Arab in the world.

"Our journey to space represents a message of hope to every Arab citizen that we have the innovation, resilience and efforts to compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge."

UAE's mission to Mars days away from launch

During his meeting with the EMM team in the UAE, he was briefed on the last stages of pre-launch preparations. Omran Sharaf, project director of the mission, explained the different tasks assigned to the team leading testing operations.

The Dubai-based space mission's control team are coordinating efforts from the MBRSC with the launch team in Japan who will soon be joined by Emirati engineers and experts to manage and oversee the launch.

The meeting was chaired by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and President of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

The Dubai Crown Prince hailed the young Emiratis and experts who have been instrumental in accomplishing the grand mission.

"Hope Probe highlights our national treasure of hundreds of young Emirati engineers and experts working on the mission. These young people are part of drafting a beautiful chapter in the UAE's future."

He added: "Despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we remained committed to our plans to meet the launch schedule of the historic space mission, in efforts have truly reflected the UAE's slogan that the impossible is possible.

"The Hope Probe represents a message of hope and optimism to mankind. Our space mission is aimed at serving humanity."

Preparing for launch amid Covid-19

Even in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in April, the EMM team successfully transported Hope Probe from Dubai to Tanegashima Island in Japan. The entire journey took 83 long hours divided into three major stages.

The transfer of the probe from the MBRSC to Al Maktoum airport alone took 12 hours and a special truck had to be used. Then, the world's largest cargo plane flew it from Dubai to Japan on an 11-hour journey.

When it arrived at Nagoya Airport, the probe was transported over land and sea for more than 44 hours. After reaching the port on Tanegashima island, the team worked to unload and check the probe before starting to prepare for the launch.

The Emirates Mars Mission

The Emirates Mars Mission's Hope Probe is considered the biggest strategic and scientific national initiative announced by the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2014.

The space mission aims to build a space industry in the UAE as part of the country's vision to invest in future knowledge-based economies.

The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising necessary details for implementation, while the MBRSC is responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development, and the launch of the Hope Probe. 

The probe will provide the first truly global picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers. It will gather scientific data on the Martian atmosphere and share it freely with scientific and academic partners around the world.

The data will give deeper insights into the past and future of our own planet and the potential of life for humans on Mars and on other distant planets. Three advanced science instruments mounted on the probe will capture complete data from Mars.

The Emirates Mars Mission will study why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere and explore the connection between lower and upper layers of the atmosphere.

It will also be the first probe to study climate throughout daily and seasonal cycles, observing weather phenomena such as dust storms, changes in temperature, and changes in the Martian atmosphere patterns depending on topography. The probe will reveal the causes of Martian surface corrosion.

The historic mission will coordinate with the global Mars science community to answer key questions that no other mission has previously addressed around the Red Planet. 

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