This Tuesday (9th), between 12.14 p.m. and 12.41 p.m., the Al-Amal probe (Hope in Arabic) from the United Arab Emirates will activate its propellants to put itself into orbit around Mars. If the maneuver is successful, the country will be the fifth entity to successfully reach the red planet after the United States, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Europe (united under the European Space Agency) and India. Follow live from 12 noon with the Sternbote.
The spacecraft was launched on July 20 by a Japanese HIIA rocket. It was the first of three missions launched to Mars last year, followed by China’s Tianwen-1 (July 23) and American Mars 2020 (July 30), and it’s also the first to make the planet red reached .
The project, which is intended as a satellite to study the weather and climate on Mars, was developed by the United Arab Emirates’ space agency in collaboration with the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA. American universities in Arizona and California in Berkeley also worked on the project. The mission is carried out from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai.
The Arab country has long-term ambitions for Mars that even include building a city on the neighboring planet over a period of a hundred years. Currently there will be its first orbiter with three instruments: the EXI (a multi-wavelength camera that can visualize images of Mars with a resolution of 12 megapixels), the Emir (an infrared spectrometer for observing dust and ice clouds) and water vapor in the atmosphere, in addition to measuring the planetary surface and the low atmospheric temperatures) and emus (an ultraviolet spectrometer that focuses on monitoring the high Martian atmosphere and in addition the distribution of the monoxide of carbon and oxygen in the Martian thermosphere determines the presence above of oxygen and hydrogen in the exosphere.
With the maneuver this Tuesday, in which the ship’s main thruster is fired 27 minutes in a row to brake and allow Mars gravity to capture it in orbit, Al-Amal has to establish itself on a rather eccentric trajectory around the red planet. The orbiter rotates between 1,000 and 50,000 km altitude every 40 hours. Over the weeks it will make minor course adjustments until it is in a less shallow orbit with a period of 55 hours and an altitude variation between 20,000 and 43,000 km. This is the scientific orbit in which the probe must begin to produce its main scientific results. The main mission is supposed to last a Mars year (which is roughly two Earth years).
This Wednesday (10) it will be China’s Tianwen-1 to settle on Mars and make China the sixth unit to have an orbiter on the red planet. And the American Mars 2020 with the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity mini helicopter was supposed to “arrive” without circling, and on February 18, plunge directly into the atmosphere to land on the surface of Mars.
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