A Japanese H-2A rocket lifts off at 5:58 p.m. EDT (2158 GMT) Sunday from the Tanegashima Space Center. Credit: MHI
Riding a Japanese rocket, the Arab world’s first interplanetary probe departed planet Earth on Sunday to begin a seven-month journey to Mars on a dual mission of scientific exploration and proving the mettle of the UAE’s growing space programme.
Funded and led by the United Arab Emirates, the Mars probe carries a digital camera to image the Martian surface, dust storms and ice clouds, and spectrometers to measure constituents at multiple levels of the planet’s atmosphere.
The science payload will allow researchers to better link Martian weather with longer-term trends of atmospheric loss, the process by which molecules are stripped away from Mars by the solar wind.
“It is a weather satellite, and that’s one objective of the mission,” said Sarah al-Amiri, the Mars mission’s lead scientist and the UAE’s minister of state for advanced sciences, in a pre-launch interview with Spaceflight Now. “We also look at what role Mars’s weather plays in atmospheric loss. That’s the other part of the mission.”
The Emirates Mars Mission — also called Hope, or Al Amal — also carries the UAE’s ambition to ...