The United Arab Emirates heads towards Mars. The Emirates Mars Mission, which consists of an orbiter called Hope, is all set to launch a seven-month journey to Red Planet to study its atmosphere and weather today (July 19th). The launch was scheduled for earlier this week but was postponed due to bad weather.
Hope will launch aboard a Japanese rocket from Tanegashima, Japan, and if all goes well, it will arrive at Mars in February 2021. After the US, the Soviet Union, the European Union, and India, this will make the United Arab Emirates the fifth spacefaring force to reach the planet.
When Hope is in orbit around Mars, it will measure the atmosphere every day in an effort to track how the weather and climate change there. According to Sarah Al Amiri, the UAE’s minister for advanced sciences and the science lead for the mission,
“The geology of Mars has been studied quite extensively. We are only just getting started in the atmosphere.”
The spacecraft holds three scientific instruments: a camera for taking high-resolution photographs of the surface of Mars and searching for water ice, an infrared spectrometer for measuring dust, ice, and water vapor in the lower atmosphere, and an ultraviolet spectrometer for measuring the composition of the upper atmosphere.
Hope will follow an elliptical orbit that could bring it fairly close to the earth – about 20,000 kilometers away – every 55 hours, instead of simply circling the planet. This will allow it to observe the same places at various times of the day, creating a model of how the weather reacts to changes in sunlight.