UAE’s Hope Probe enters orbit in first Arab Mars mission

UAE’s Hope Probe enters orbit in first Arab Mars mission by Lisa Barrington via DUBAIĀ (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates’ first mission to Mars reached the red planet and entered orbit on Tuesday after a seven-month, 494 million-km (307 million-mile) journey, allowing it to start sending data about the Martian atmosphere and climate.

The Mars programme is part of the UAE’s efforts to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil. The UAE Space Agency, the fifth globally to reach the planet, even has a plan for a Mars settlement by 2117.

“Contact with #HopeProbe has been established again. The Mars Orbit Insertion is now complete,” said the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, where the ruler of Dubai and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi were present to receive the news.ADVERTISEMENThttps://95ccbcf9569022762fd02a6ae3b61408.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html?n=0

The attempt had a 50% chance of failing, Dubai’s ruler and UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had said. To enter Mars’ orbit, the probe needed to burn around half its 800 kg (1,760 lbs) of onboard fuel to slow down enough not to overshoot, the most dangerous part of the journey.

“Today is the start of a new chapter in Arab history … of trust in our capability to compete with other nations and people,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted after the probe entered orbit. “The UAE will celebrate its Golden Jubilee with science, culture and inspiration because we aim to build a model of development.”

This year marks 50 years since independence from Britain and the founding of the UAE federation, which groups seven emirates, including Dubai. Mars probes launched by China and NASA just after the UAE’s lift-off in July are also set to reach the planet this month.