The United Arab Emirates launched its first mission to Mars on Monday (July 20) as it strives to develop its scientific and technological capabilities and reduce its reliance on oil.
The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere.
The first Arab mission to Mars was initially due to launch on July 14, but has been delayed twice due to bad weather.
Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth.
There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year.
The Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million, according to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri. It aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.
The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big spacefaring nations.
It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space last September when he flew to the International Space Station.
To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions.
The MBRSC space centre in Dubai will oversee the spacecraft during its 494 million km (307 million mile) journey at an average speed of 121,000 km per hour. (Reuters)
NASA is set to launch an ambitious mission to Mars on Thursday (July 30) with the liftoff of its next-generation Perseverance rover, a six-wheeled robot tasked with deploying a mini helicopter, testing out equipment for future human missions and searching for traces of past Martian life.
The $2.4 billion mission, slated for liftoff at 7:50 a.m. ET (1150 GMT) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, is planned as the U.S. space agency’s ninth trek to the Martian surface. The United Arab Emirates and China separately this month launched probes to Mars in displays of technological prowess and ambition.
Launching atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, the car-sized Perseverance rover is expected to reach Mars next February. It is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists believe could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.
“This is the first time in history where we’re going to go to Mars with an explicit mission to find life on another world,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told a news briefing on Wednesday (July 29).
The rover will attempt for the first time to bring Martian rock samples back to Earth, collecting materials in cigar-sized capsules and leaving them scattered on the surface for retrieval by a future “fetch” rover. That conceptual rover is expected to launch the samples back into space to link up with other spacecraft for an eventual Earth homecoming around 2031.
Also aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter dubbed Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.
“Imagine a day when we land a robot on Mars and that robot can send maybe a dozen helicopters in different directions to make different discoveries,” Bridenstine said.
Since NASA’s first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others – Spirit and Opportunity – that have revealed the geology of vast Martian plains and found evidence of past water formations, among other discoveries. NASA has successfully sent three landers – Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight – as well.
The United States has plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under its Artemis program, which envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the bigger leap to Mars. (Reuters)
Stranded Filipinos from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Wednesday (June 3), according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In a statement, the DFA reported 274 Filipino repatriates underwent the necessary medical protocols upon arrival. They will also undergo the 14-day quarantine before they will be allowed to go home to their families.
The DFA also said over 31,000 Filipinos have been repatriated since February.
“A total of 31,528 Overseas Filipinos (OFs) have been repatriated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) since it began bringing back Filipinos affected by COVID-19 in February 2020,” the DFA said. —AAC
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