Hope probe passes last tests be­fore launch

The National - News - - NEWS | EMIRATES - SARWAT NASIR

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

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