Do you think that while the entire world is still struggling against the pandemic, a small country in terms of size in the Arabian Peninsula has achieved something extraordinary?
What is that country? and what is that miraculous achievement?
I’m talking about the UAE, and they’ve just started their exploration journey to Mars with a project called “Emirates Mars Mission”
, which in the world only a few organizations have successfully achieved.
Although the probe had only been launched for a day and was still on its way to visit the red planet, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to tell you some very interesting Emirates Mars Mission facts.
I’m a tour guide so my job is always to have up-to-date information about this country.
At first, when I heard about it, I felt a bit uncomfortable and didn’t want to learn about it. This is especially the field I don’t know and extremely complicated.
So I understand you probably don’t really know rocket science stuff either, so don’t worry, I have compiled it to be a little more fun and easy to digest.
But first, I would like to take you back to 1976, the day when Sheikh Zayed – the first president of UAE, Father of the Nation, he met three American astronauts in Abu Dhabi and discussed the possibility of exploring space, just like how America did.
The nation was just about 5 years old at that time but Sheikh Zayed already set a clear vision for the country to gradually progress to the study of the space industry.
And in less than 50 years, the UAS has accomplished several important milestones, there are 5 UAE satellites roaming around the Earth; last year in 2019, the first-ever Emirati astronaut visited International Space Station (ISS) and his name is Hazza Al Mansouri.
The Emirates Mars Mission project is a continuation of this long-term vision.
Without further ado, let’s dive into 25 fascinating facts about Emirates Mars Mission.
25 Incredible Emirates Mars Mission Facts
2:00 am, 20-July-2020
Is the launch date of the UAE space mission to Mars. The initial date was 15th July, then 17th July, but due to bad weather in Japan (where the launch service provider located), the final launch date had moved to 20th July at 2 am UAE time.
Hope probe/ Hope Mars mission
Emirates Mars Mission is the space project name given by the UAE Space Agency, “Hope” is the name given to the probe (will land on Mars) which was selected over a thousand suggestions within the Arab world, it’s called Al Amal in Arabic. It’s a hope to inspire younger Emirati and Arab generations to develop an interest in science.
First Arab’s mission to the Red planet
This is the first-ever Arab and Muslim majority’s space mission to discover another planet. The mission, funded by the UAE Space Agency, represents a great achievement of Arab civilization and the Middle East’s history.
First space mission countdown in Arabic numbers
As it represents the pride of Arabs and Arabic culture, the launching countdown was done in Arabic numbers to mark this historical milestone. This is one of the most important Emirates Mars mission facts.
Is an estimated travel time to reach the Mars planet, the Hope Mars mission is calculated to land on its surface in the first quarter of 2021 and start exploring. You could have missed witnessing the launch date, but it’s not too late to wait till the day it will land on Mars.
6 years, 12.000 tasks, 5.5 millions working hour
That is the total amount of time from the start of the project to the launch of Mars, it also took a huge amount of learning curve to space and Mars planet. It was a 6 challenging year for the Emarati scientists and their partners are some US universities. The initial plan was 10 years instead of 6.
$200 million/ Dh735 million invested
The Emirates Mars Mission costs about $200 million US dollars (Dh735 million) that includes the cost of producing the probe and launching service fees.
Probe weighs 1,3 tons same size and weight of a Mini Cooper
The exact weight of the Hope probe is 1350 Kg (1,3 tons) and its dimensions are 2.37 m wide by 2.90 m tall. Its size and weight are equivalent to a Mini Cooper as a fun comparison by The Newyork Times.
Cheapest, most lightweight
Although I mentioned its value and size, I want to emphasize that this is one of the cheapest and lightest built probes.
According to Forbes magazine, Indian’s Mars Orbiter Mission has the cheapest cost of $74 million, “NASA’s MAVEN Mars orbiter cost around $672 million, while ESA’s Mars Express cost $329 million. NASA’s latest InSight lander cost $828 million.” — Forbes
It could have waited until 2022
Every two years, there is a perfect time that Mars has the shortest distance to our Earth, and 2020 is that ideal year. If they missed this opportunity, they wouldn’t make it to Mars before the next National days in 2021 which will have a significant meaning. Please keep reading to know
The reason that made it more difficult this year is the coronavirus pandemic, which made a negative impact on the project and most of the core team members couldn’t make it to Japan to attend the launching day due to heavy travel restrictions.
Despite many difficult challenges, the goal of making the journey in July has finally been achieved.
Arrive in Mars in 2021 to coincide with 50th anniversary of national day
It is expected to land on Mars to mark the 50th anniversary of UAE National day before December 2nd, 2021. This will be an important milestone event to raise the national position in the international arena.
In ancient times, when the Bedouins were traveling in a vast desert, one of the most effective methods for them to navigate on the way was to look up to the stars. The Hope probe is equipped with star tracker sensors that do the same technique.It follows the stars, studies and sends us where it is currently being located.
More than 150 Emiratis scientists and engineers, over 30% are women
Although this is a collaborative project of many sides, but the main Emirates Mars Mission team are more than 150 Emiratis scientists and engineers, it grew from 70+ members. Especially, more than 30% are actually women. This is an industry in which men are dominant in numbers.
Age average: 30s
Even though I don’t exactly have an average number of age, but they are really young and many of them joined the Emirates Mars Mission when they were just the beginning of their 30s. Even Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut, was just 35 when he travelled to the ISS.
493,5 million kilometers
The probe is expected to travel over 493,5 million kilometers to reach Mars and as I mentioned above, it would approximately take 7 months to land.
1.6Mbps to 250Kbps
This is the best and the worst speed connection we can get from Mars. The data bandwidth is at its best 1.6mbs at Mar’s closest point to Earth. And it takes about 15 – 20 minutes delay for a signal to be sent to Earth.
I had a look at my home wifi connection and my wifi speed is 50Mbps which is 30x times faster. But don’t forget that there might be a telecom base transceiver station (BTS) next to my house, and the Hope probe needs to send signals from almost 500 million kilometers away.
Two solar panels, enough to run 20 laptops
Once the probe is released in the space to run by itself, it will unfold three 600-watt solar panels to recharge and the power is enough to run 20 laptops at the same time.
Launched in Tanegashima Island, Japan
The Emiratis scientists and engineers collaborated with their counterparts in America to assemble the probe, then Tanegashima Island in Japan was a chosen place to launch it.
That’s the cruising speed while in space, for comparison, it is 1000 times faster than a normal car driving at 120 km/h in Sheikh Zayed Road. And the launching speed was over 34,000km/h.
2 years mission
The ship has a two-year mission duration to study the climate and surface of Mars. And it could be extended for another 2 years, depending on the conditions of the probe at that time. And 2 Earth years equals 1 Martian year.
5th probe to reach mars
Up to now, only 4 entities in the world have successfully performed Mars exploration. The Hope probe will be the 5th mission after NASA, Russia, the European Space Agency (ESA) and India.
The total data expected to send back to Earth after completing the mission is over 1000 Gb (or approx. 1 Tb). The data will be shared freely to science communities, research scientists, students… all around the world as a service to advance human knowledge.
The mission’s objectives are to provide a complete picture of the climate on Mars by spending 1 full Martian year. It will also look for an answer to the question of why Mars lost its atmosphere because it had an inhabitable atmosphere that could sustain liquid water on the surface in ancient times.
One of the important goals of this project is to increase the Arab pride in humanity, the same way their ancestors did in ancient times with many great inventions. More importantly, it is a motivation for the younger Arab generations to explore scientific research. That’s why the probe is called “Hope” (Al-Amal).
Mars 2117: Mars science city
More than just space exploration projects, the UAE has an even more ambitious project, and it’s called Mars 2117. This project is expected to build a city inhabited by Mars by 2117 – “Mars science city”. Because the climatic conditions on Mars are very similar to the hot desert weather in the Middle East.
There you have it, all the facts about the UAE space mission. UAE has been proving to the world that nothing is impossible in such a harsh condition in the Middle East, from only bare sands to skyscrapers, and now, it’s another space mission.
The resources I use for this Emirates Mars Mission factsL