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UAE Hope spacecraft to ‘win 2021 space race’ against US and China with arrival at Mars tomorrow

THE UNITED Arab Emirates’ historic first mission to Mars should see its Hope probe reach the planet’s orbit tomorrow.

That means Hope would beat other missions by the US and China that are also heading for the Red Planet.

The probe is aiming to enter Mars's orbit on February 9


The probe is aiming to enter Mars’s orbit on February 9Credit: AP:Associated Press

The three countries all launched their projects last July when Mars’s orbit brought it close to Earth.

The UAE could soon become the fifth country ever to reach the Red Planet’s orbit with a spacecraft.

Hope’s success has always aimed to coincide with the the 50th anniversary year of the UAE which formed in 1971.

It launched on July 19, 2020 at around 10pm UTC.


Hope will orbit Mars and observe things like the weather
Hope will orbit Mars and observe things like the weather

The entire project is led by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre.

But scientists working on the mission have collaborated with a number of other academic organisations in the US.

Unlike the US and China missions, no part of the UAE Hope orbiter will touch down on the surface of Mars.

Instead it will remain in orbit around the Red Planet to make various measurements.

The Hope probe on Earth before it was blasted into space in July 2020


The Hope probe on Earth before it was blasted into space in July 2020Credit: PA:Press Association

It will study the daily and seasonal cycles of weather, and how the climate of Mars is changing more generally.

China’s mission looks set to reach Mars’s orbit next, shortly followed by the US.

If the Hope probe reaches Mars’s orbit then the UAE will celebrate by lighting the city up in red and emblazoning #ArabstoMars on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa building.

Hope, called “Al-Amal” in Arabic, has plans to orbit Mars for 687 days.

The process for Hope to enter Mars’s orbit should begin at 15:30 GMT on February 9.

If you want to checkout the countdown clock for yourself you can take a lot on the Emirates Mars Mission website.

Mars facts

Here’s what you need to know about the red planet…

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun
  • It is named after the Roman god of war
  • The landmass of Mars is very similar to Earth but due to the difference in gravity you could jump three times higher there than you can here
  • Mars is mountainous and hosts the tallest mountain known in the Solar System called Olympus Mons, which is three times higher than Everest
  • Mars is considered to be the second most habitable planet after Earth
  • It takes the planet 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun
  • So far, there has been 39 missions to Mars but only 16 of these have been successful
Nasa’s alien-hunting Perseverance rover will land on Mars this month

In other space news, Elon Musk is plotting to launch a phone network using satellites operated by his aerospace company, SpaceX.

Four Supermoons will be gracing the night sky in 2021.

And, a Full Moon could be giving you a worse night’s sleep, according to a new study.

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