Hope probe passes last tests before launch
The UAE is a step closer to becoming the first Arab nation to reach the Red Planet, officials said on Thursday.
Engineers said the Hope spacecraft underwent final checks at the launch site on Tanegashima Island in Japan, and that it was “all systems go”.
Sarah Al Amiri, President of the UAE Space Agency and deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission, said: “The spacecraft is ready for launch and all of the systems are now at a level that is ready to be launched.
“We also checked the ground segment and the operations in mission control and they are ready to accept the spacecraft after launch.
“The final checks are currently ongoing on both the launch vehicle and mission control.
“We are ready to launch as scheduled early in the morning on July 15.”
The Hope probe will study the upper and lower atmosphere of Mars. It will take seven to nine months to reach the Red Planet.
Hope was built by a team of 150 Emirati engineers, scientists and researchers, alongside three US universities.
The probe will be propelled into space by a Japanese-built rocket system called the H-IIA, capable of speeds of more than 34,000 kilometres an hour. The spacecraft will separate from the rocket about an hour after lift-off.
Once out of Earth’s gravity, Hope will make a solo journey to Mars, travelling 493.5 million kilometres.
Once there, its infrared spectrometer will begin to measure the distribution of dust, ice clouds and water vapour while a sophisticated camera takes high-resolution images of the planet.
An ultraviolet spectrometer will also study the upper atmosphere and record traces of oxygen and hydrogen.
Other spacecraft launched to explore Mars in recent years include Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005 and the Trace Gas Orbiter, a joint project by Russia’s space agency and the European Space Agency, which was launched in 2016.
The Hope probe will be placed in a much higher orbit than previous craft, however, allowing it to capture broader images.
Despite the recent wet weather in Japan, the project’s engineers remain confident the launch will take place on schedule.
The Hope spacecraft inside its support structure