A space probe from the United Arab Emirates successfully reached Mars on Tuesday, marking history as the first Arab country to reach the Red Planet.
The $200-million project “Hope probe” had launched on July 20th from the Tanegashima Space Station in Japan, reaching Mars on February 9th, and breaking through the highly challenging orbit of the Red Planet at 7:42 P.M. Emirates time.
The breaching of Mars’ orbit isn’t short of phenomenal, as experts estimate a mere 50% of chance, based on the several previous failed attempts.
About half an hour later of breaking through, while the 200 team members at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center waited in tension, the Hope probe sent its signal back to Earth.
At receiving the signal, project director Omran Sharaf stood back with calm solemnity to make the historic announcement to the Emirati nation.
“To the people of the UAE, to the Arab and Muslim nations, we announce the successful arrival to Mars orbit. Praise be to God,” he said, sparking cheers and applauses.
The UAE’s ambitious project was seven years in the making and just made the Gulf country the fifth in the world to reach Mars.
Reportedly, Hope probe had to conduct a dramatic maneuver to be able to make it through a critical time window of 27 minutes, which CNBC called “terrifying and suspenseful.”
The daring Emirati space probe “had to dramatically slow down from its speed of 100,000 kilometers per hour (62,137 mph) to 18,000 kph by firing its six thrusters for 27 minutes exactly,” CNBC said.
That caused Hope probe to lose about half of its fuel, “enabling it to be caught by Mars’ gravitational pull and enter into its orbit” as explained by CNBC.
This is certainly not a small feat. The young country of the Emirates, which celebrates this year its 50th anniversary, has dared to take a monumental step into a new era for itself, bringing its name to shine among the stars and alongside the world space explorers, such as NASA and UK Space Agency.
In fact, the Hope probe is one of the current three Mars missions planned to breach Mars’ orbit this year, including NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is expected to reach on February 18th, and China’s Tianwen-1 mission, expected on February 10th,
While all three missions launched in July, the Hope probe is the first to complete its journey.
Sarah Al-Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, told CNBC that this will be the Emirates’ drive “from this mission onwards over the course of the next five years.”
Emirati officials all agree that the success of the Mars mission will help encourage their youth’s interest in science and space exploration, ensuring powerful and diverse sectors in the country.
It is to note that the UAE is also the first country that has a Minister of Artificial Intelligence as it continues to expand its science, technology, engineering, and math sector.