Hope Probe: UAE on cusp of scientific breakthrough

Dubai - Hope Probe to arrive at Red Plane at 7:42pm on February 9

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 7 Feb 2021, 7:26 PM

The UAE is on the cusp of a spatial breakthrough with less than two days to go for the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI), which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday (February 9) at around 7:42pm.

Also read:

UAE’s Hope probe to be first of 3 spacecrafts to reach Mars

Your guide to UAE's Hope Probe that reaches Mars in 3 days

The mission seeks to boost the UAE industry and science sectors' capacity and will also provide the much-needed data on the Martian atmosphere.

Most of the spacecraft have been in polar orbits that only offered views of the surface at fixed times of a day.

But the UAE’s Hope spacecraft will be inserted into an inclined orbit that’ll provide a comprehensive view.

Hessa Rashid Al Matroushi, Deputy Project Manager, Science, said: “The UAE had categorically set the objective at the outset. The mission has to espouse novel scientific causes. It has to be a continuation of the existing research on the Martian atmosphere and also compliment the critical gaps that currently exist.”

She added: “The mission was designed by scientific objectives that are unique. We want to share the data with everyone. The UAE’s objective is to share the data and advance the knowledge of the human race as far as the Martian atmosphere and space science is concerned.

The data will fill in the gaps in computer models of the Martian atmosphere.

These global climate models (GCMs) rely on basic physical laws to make predictions about the weather and climate.

Scientific objectives of the mission

Al Matroushi spelt out the three scientific objectives of the mission.

“The first one is about characterising the lower atmosphere of Mars. The second one is about relating the conditions of the lower atmosphere of Mars to those in the upper atmosphere and specifically looking into the escape of hydrogen and oxygen. The third one is looking at the changes of hydrogen and oxygen on the Red Planet,” she said.

The researchers will take the data from the mission and then merge them together to create a snapshot of the Martian atmosphere in a bid to analyse how they change on a daily basis and in a sub-seasonal manner.

The data will be holistically compared with other existing global circulation models of the Martian atmosphere.

“We’ll take the data sets that are currently available on Mars to carry out a comprehensive comparison. Another set of analysis includes taking the data from the lower atmosphere of Mars and linking it to the upper atmosphere. This will help gain

in-depth information about the relationship between the different layers of the Martian atmosphere,” said Al Matroushi.

A web portal has also been developed to access the data that the mission generates.

This portal will be up and running not only during the mission’s lifetime but even beyond its existence.

Data visualisation tools

Omran Ahmed Al Hammadi, the lead at Science Data Centre, said: “Once the spacecraft transits to the science orbit, then we’ll start collecting Mars observation data using the instruments that are on board the Hope Probe. Once the data is collected, it will be sent to the Mission Operation Centre. Then, the raw data will be sent to the Science Data Centre.”

He added: “The first data set will be released four months after entering the science orbit, which is likely to be around September-October. Later, after every three months, a new data set will be released to conduct scientific analysis and research.”

The researchers are expected to develop the visualisation tools, which will be used to decode the scientific data delivered by the spacecraft’s instruments.

Noora Saeed Al Mheiri, science data analyst, lower atmosphere, said the expertise has been developed to decode the data sets.

“The researchers have focused on developing their analytical skills while poring over the data sets of previous missions to Mars. This will help us better understand the upcoming new set of data that will be received from Mars,” she added.


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