UAE Hope Probe: What happens after the big take-off?
Dubai - Once the Hope Probe blasts into space on a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket, it will set off an eastward trajectory over the Pacific Ocean.
In less than nine hours, the moment the world has been waiting for will arrive. The UAE's Hope Probe will attempt to become the first Arab interplanetary mission, as it launches on a course set for the Red Planet.
With all the build-up towards the launch - which has been delayed twice so far due to unstable weather conditions at the launch site in Japan - it's time to ask: what happens afterwards?
Here's all you need to know about what happens once the Hope Probe is deployed.
STAGE 1: LIFT-OFF!
>Once the Hope Probe blasts into space on a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket, it will set off an eastward trajectory over the Pacific Ocean.
>The solid rocket boosters (that provide additional thrust needed to escape Earth's gravitational pull) are expended, and the fairing (an external structure used to protect the probe) is discarded.
>The rocket is then jettisoned into the Earth's orbit, where it stays until perfectly aligned with Mars.
> Once aligned, it is reignited to push it on a trajectory towards Mars. The upper stage then gently deploys the Hope Probe at a velocity of 11 km/s.
Read on: Terminal countdown for UAE's Hope probe launch begins
STAGE 2: PLOTTING COURSE
>An automated sequence now kicks in to awaken the probe.
>The central computer boots up and turns on the heaters to prevent the fuel from freezing.
>As the sun sensors locate the sun, the solar array panels are activated and begin charging the onboard battery.
>The Hope Probe begins transmitting to Earth, to a ground station in Madrid.
>Once the signal is received, the Emirates Mars Mission Operations Team will conduct a check of the spacecraft.
>Once the comms system is clear, the propulsion system onboard ensures detailed manoeuvers to perfect the probe's course towards Mars.
>The probe now prepares to cover over 490 million kms in roughly 200 days.
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STAGE 3: TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
>Over the next several months (almost seven, to be precise), the Hope Probe is monitored constantly by the Operations Team on Earth, who will further correct its trajectory, as necessary.
>Instruments are turned on at this time and calibrated using stars to check that they are functioning well and ready to operate upon arrival in Mars' orbit.
STAGE 4: HELLO, MARS
>This is a critical phase, where the team focuses on safely entering a Capture Orbit at Mars.
> At over 121,000 km/h, the probe will be approaching Mars at a speed that may cause it to slingshot around the Red Planet and deep into space if it isn't slowed down.
>Delta V thrusters are fired for about 30 minutes to burn nearly half the fuel and slow the probe down to about 18,000 km/h.
>The entire operation will be completed 100% autonomously, as radio signals from Mars take 13-26 minutes to travel to Earth, thereby preventing the ground team from intervening with the probe.
>Once the Mars Orbit Insertion is completed, the Hope Probe will 'go dark' - eclipsed by Mars.
>Communication with the probe will only be re-established once it emerges from the dark side of Mars and the first contact is potentially received from the ground station in Spain.
>Instruments on the probe continue to be tested, and manoeuvers are performed to position it for science observations.
STAGE 5: SWITCHING ORBITS
>In the Capture Orbit (an elliptical orbit lasting 40 hours), the Hope Probe can get as close as 1,000 km above Mars' surface and as far as 49,380 km away from it.
>The first image of Mars will be taken and transmitted to the Mission Operation Center.
>Daily contact is scheduled with the team on Earth, enabling quick command sequence uploads and telemetry receipt.
>After six weeks of testing and validation, the Hope Probe will move into the Science Orbit, which ranges between 20,000-43,000km and spans 55 hours per circuit.
>Contact with Mission Operation Center is limited to 6-8 hours, twice a week, during which time the probe is expected to transfer over 1TB of novel data on Martian atmosphere.