The eruption of cheers after the successful Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) of the Hope Probe resonated throughout the Arab world – and today, the UAE is celebrating the completion of one Martian year since the day the Hope Probe entered the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021.
The Hope Probe successfully reached Mars’ orbit at 19:42 on February 9, 2021, completing one of the most complex and intricate stages of its mission, after a 493 million kilometre, seven-month journey through space.
The Probe is scheduled to continue its scientific mission to explore Mars until the middle of 2023, with the possibility of extending it for an additional Martian year (two Earth years), as per a press conference held in Dubai on Thursday.
Zakaria Al Shamsi, Deputy Project Director for the operations of Hope Probe, said, “The space craft is very healthy. We keep doing [an] analysis regularly. As far as the mission extension is concerned, the decision depends on MBRSC and the UAE Space Agency. It’s mainly the UAE space agency that’ll take this decision.”
The Hope Probe, which completes one cycle every 55 hours, has registered numerous scientific achievements by observing previously unknown phenomena.
The Probe’s achievements open up broad prospects for the development and prosperity of the national space sector aimed at boosting its contribution to the UAE’s GDP – as it is one of the most prominent sectors of the future economy based on innovation and knowledge.
Upcoming goals of the EMM
Shedding light on the upcoming goals of the mission, Shamshi explains that Mars’ two moons, Deimos and Phobos, are an area of interest for the scientists at the agency.
Deimos, which is the smaller and the outermost of Mars’ two natural satellites, is particularly in focus for researchers.
However, it’s said the origin of Mars’s moons is unknown, and the hypotheses are controversial.
“Currently, studying the Deimos moon is our target, and it (as and when we find new data), will be a new discovery for the scientific community. The team is studying Deimos and looking to get more data. This is an exciting moment for us as we strive to understand Deimos and what it actually looks like,” he added.
Elucidating on one of the most critical moments in the project, Shamshi adds, “The most challenging part for me was the launch and [the] Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI). The chances of the MOI was 50/50, so that was a nail-biting moment. But the team had prepared well for it.”