The UAE waits with bated breaths for the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission to reach Mars in under three days. As at 11am on February 6, the Hope Probe has already travelled a mind-boggling 475 million kilometres, with a little over 5.2 million kilometres left to cover.
The probe carrying the dreams of millions of Emiratis, Arabs and expatriates in the UAE is scheduled to enter orbit on February 9 at 7.42pm (UAE time).
On the day, there will be a “dark” half an hour that will determine the fate of six years of continuous work spent on the probe.
The Hope Probe’s Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI), the most critical phase of the mission, will last an uninterrupted 27 minutes. Nail-bitingly, its destiny is at stake with a success rate of 50 per cent.
The Hope Probe approaches Mars with such a velocity that it will slingshot around it and continue into deep space if it isn’t slowed down to the level that it can be captured by Mars’ gravity.
During this time, the speed of the spacecraft will decelerate from its cruising speed of 121,000kmph down to 18,000kmph to achieve MoI.
Nearly half of the fuel is spent to slow the Hope Probe down enough to capture Mars’ orbit.
This will be the first time that the spacecraft’s system will be tested for nearly 30 minutes straight.
“The MOI is one of the riskiest phases in the mission. The main reason behind it is because for the first time we use our system and platform that has been developed for deep space to perform this operation for a long time.
“The previous critical phase was the launch phase, but there we used the MHI launcher - a launcher that has heritage and success rate,” said Omran Sharaf, project director of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM).
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