Hope Probe, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Mars mission, has successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit, making the country’s space agency the fifth in the world to achieve the feat, authorities announced here on Wednesday.
The Dubai-based Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) announced the probe entered the Mars orbit at 8.13 p.m. on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
After Hope Probe’s orbit entry, UAE scientists and engineers will spend two months testing the spacecraft and its on-board scientific instruments before the orbiter will transition to its science orbit, the MBRSC said.
In its capture orbit, Hope Probe’s nearest point above Mars’ surface is 1,000 km while its farthest point is 49,380 km.
“During this stage, the ground control at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai will conduct Three Transition to Science (TTS) manoeuvers to move the probe from its capture to science orbit by April,” Omran Ahmed Al Hammadi, head of the Science Data Centre for the probe, said.
Hope Probe’s science orbit is elliptical, between 20,000 km and 43,000 km above Mars’ surface and with an inclination of 25 degrees.
In this orbit, the spacecraft can complete one orbit of Mars every 55 hours and will capture a full planetary sample every nine days.
With its three scientific instruments, Hope Probe will map a complete portrait of the Martian atmosphere and study its seasonal and daily changes, while the more than one terabyte (1,000 GB) of new data the spacecraft is expected to collect will be shared with over 200 academic and scientific institutions worldwide for free, according to the MBRSC.
Hope was the first of three space missions sent toward the Red Planet during the July 2020 Mars launch window.
The other two missions were launched by the national space agencies of China (Tianwen-1) and the US (Mars 2020 and its Perseverance rover).
On Tuesday, the Hope Probe became the first of the three to enter the planet’s orbit.