Emirates Mars Mission to Arrive at Mars on Feb. 9th in partnership with LASP at CU Boulder

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Heather Reed, LASP EMM media coordinator
Heather.Reed@lasp.colorado.edu

The Emirates Mars Mission Hope Spacecraft prior to shipment to Dubai and the Tanegashima Launch site, with fully deployed solar panels and instruments visible (facing the floor) measuring nearly 5 meters across.
Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison

Key takeaways:

  • The Emirates Mars Mission will enter into orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021 at 8:41 a.m. MST.  
  • A live broadcast of the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) event is available to the general public on http://www.emm.ae/live beginning at 7 a.m. MST.
  • The mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, will spend one Martian Year (about two Earth years) orbiting around the red planet gathering crucial scientific data on its atmosphere.
  • The orbiter, named ‘Hope’ (Al Amal in Arabic), was constructed at LASP by a joint team of engineers from both the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) and LASP.
  • Two of the three science instruments on board, Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) and Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) were developed at LASP in partnership with MBRSC engineers.

After launching 7 months ago, the Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, is scheduled to reach Mars’ orbit on February 9, 2021 at 8:41 a.m. MST. It will spend one Martian Year (about two Earth years) orbiting the red planet gathering crucial science data. 

A live broadcast of the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) event is available to the general public on http://www.emm.ae/live beginning at 7 a.m. MST.

The mission is being carried out by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in the UAE in collaboration with a number of US research institutions, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, Arizona State University and the Space Sciences Lab (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).

During the Mars Orbit Insertion, nearly half of the fuel on board will be spent to slow the Hope Probe down enough to be captured into Mars’ orbit. The fuel burn (firing of the “Delta Velocity” thrusters) will last approximately 27 minutes and reduces the speed of the spacecraft from over 75,000 miles per hour (121,000 km/h) to approximately 11,000 miles per hour.  

EMM Mission Phases
Credit:MBRSC

“We are fortunate to have a very healthy spacecraft, and everything is looking very good at the moment,” said Pete Withnell, the EMM program manager at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, which partnered with the UAE on the mission, said during a recent news conference.

The scientific goals of the mission are to provide a complete picture of the lower and upper Martian atmosphere. Unique to Hope is its orbit, which enables near-complete daily and geographic coverage, providing a weather-satellite style view of the Martian atmosphere. The mission will give scientists greater insight into the connections within and between the upper and lower atmospheres and how those connections help to drive atmospheric escape.

“It can hover above a single geographic region like the big volcano, Olympus Mons, and study the atmosphere there at many times of day,” said Professor David Brain, EMM Deputy Science Lead, a LASP research scientist and an Associate Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.  “Every nine days of the mission, the probe will have completely captured a picture of the Martian atmosphere.” 

To achieve these goals, Hope carries three scientific instruments, the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrograph (EMUS), Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), and Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer (EMIRS). The EXI camera’s high-resolution images will measure properties of Mars’s water, ice, dust, aerosols and ozone in its atmosphere. The EMUS spectrometer will measure global characteristics and variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the Mars thermosphere. Both EXI and EMUS were developed at LASP in Boulder, Colorado. EMIRS (developed at ASU) will measure the distribution of dust particles and ice clouds while tracking the movement of water vapor and heat through the atmosphere.

Hope Probe Instrument highlight
Credit: MBRSC

“Hope will capture the ebbs and flows of weather on Mars to a degree that wasn’t possible before. It’s a showcase for how space exploration has become an increasingly international endeavor,” said the Director of LASP, Dr. Daniel Baker.

The Emirates’ goal for the mission is to provide knowledge transfer to the next generation of Emirati scientist and engineers through a hands-on learning environment and knowledge-transfer program. 

“Collaboration and knowledge transfer have been key to the development of the Emirates Mars Mission,” said Project Director Omran Sharaf from MBRSC. “Our partners at LASP have been key to ensuring the success of the mission, delivering an extraordinary spacecraft in almost half the time of conventional missions but also in providing the resources and knowledge we need to drive our own development of space systems engineering and planetary science.”

Pete Withnell offered, “It has been an extraordinary adventure working alongside our Emirati partners to develop this mission and to be part of a global enterprise for positive change.  LASP is both honored and privileged to be part the EMM family, and we look forward to EMM’s scientific achievements for years to come.”

“One of our mission objectives was to stimulate a lot of students and an entire society within STEM.  And we’ve seen a large shift with the mindset of students, first and foremost, within the Emirates. But we’ve also seen a lot of keen engagement within the region, a region that is typically known to be unstable, and that has triggered a lot of thoughts with regards to what is possible,” said Her Excellency Sarah Al Amiri, chairperson at the UAE Space Agency and minister of state for advanced sciences in the UAE. 

The mission’s name, Hope, was chosen to send a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai for whom MBRSC is named. The resulting mission data aims to make major advances in our understanding of the Martian climate system and will be shared freely online with more than 200 institutions worldwide.

The spacecraft, which is about the size of a small car, was constructed at LASP by a joint MBRSC/LASP team led by Project Director Omran Sharaf from MBRSC, Program Manager Pete Withnell from LASP, and Deputy Program Manager and Science Lead at the time, H.E. Sarah Al Amiri. The overall team working on the Mission comprises some 200 staff from MBRSC, 150 from LASP and 100 from other partners, as well as an international science team.


About the Emirates Mars Mission

Announced in July 2014 by Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, the Emirates Mars Mission was developed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) working in conjunction with its knowledge transfer partners and funded by the UAE Space Agency.

EMM and the Hope probe are the culmination of a knowledge transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers working with partners around the world to develop the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. Hope aims to build the first full picture of Mars’ climate throughout the Martian year.

The Mars Hope Probe launched on July 19, 2020 and will reach the Mars orbit in 2021, marking the 50th anniversary of The Emirates, which became an independent nation on 2 December 1971.

EMM Media Contact
FleishmanHillard
Steven.Shaw@fleishman.com