A lot of firsts are being marked with the success of this UAE mission.
On Tuesday, February 9, the UAE’s Hope Probe will finally complete a seven-month journey to the Red Planet and arrive at Mars — the first of three space missions attempting to do so this month.
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Entering another critical phase in the mission, it will attempt the Mars Orbit Insertion — a process that will take a nail-biting 27 minutes with experts predicting a 50 per cent success rate.
A lot of firsts are being marked with the success of the UAE’s mission. Here’s what to expect going forward.
STAGE 1: ARRIVAL AT MARS
> At this critical juncture, Ground and Space Segments will be kept to a minimum, while the team focuses on safely entering a Capture Orbit at Mars.
> Nearly half of the fuel will be spent to slow the Hope Probe down enough to capture Mars’ orbit.
> The fuel burn (achieved by firing the Delta V thrusters) will last approximately 30 mins and reduce the speed of the spacecraft from over 121,000 km/h to about 18,000 km/h. This is to prevent the spacecraft from slingshotting around the Red Planet.
> Since the Mars Orbit Insertion phase is as critical as the Launch phase, the spacecraft will need to be commissioned again and the instruments onboard tested before entering the transition to science phase.
— Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) February 7, 2021
STAGE 2: TRANSITION TIME
> The first contact with the observatory after the Mars Orbit Insertion will likely come from the ground station in Spain.
> The next stage in the Hope Probe’s journey is the transition from the Capture Orbit to an acceptable Science Orbit in preparation for its primary science operations.
> The Capture Orbit — an elliptical orbit lasting 40 hours — will take the Hope Probe as close as 1,000 km above Mars’ surface and as far as 49,380 km away from it.
> In the Capture Orbit, the first image of Mars from the science instruments will be taken and transmitted to the Mission Operation Centre (MOC).
> Daily contact is then scheduled with the team back on Earth, enabling a quick turn-around of command sequence uploads and telemetry receipt.
> After a period of testing and validation, a series of manoeuvres are performed to get the Hope Probe in the correct position to move into the Science Orbit.
STAGE 3: STUDYING MARS
> The Hope Probe will have an elliptical Science Orbit ranging between 20,000–43,000 km, with one complete orbit taking 55 hours.
> The orbit is unique and will allow the Hope Probe to complete the first-ever planet-wide, 24×7 picture of Mars’ atmospheric dynamics and weather.
> The contact period with the Mission Operation Centre (MOC) will be limited to 6-8 hours, twice a week.
> In the two years that the probe will be operational, it will capture novel data about Mars, its atmosphere and dynamics.
> The collected data will be made available to the scientific community through the Emirates Mars Mission’s data centre.
> In the Science Orbit, the instruments will take routine observations of Mars’ surface and atmosphere, covering all geographic locations of the planet.