UAE's Hope probe completes crucial step to reach Mars' orbit
Hope, the first interplanetary mission of the Arab world, blasted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre on July 20.
The UAE's Hope probe has fired its thrusters for the first time, directly targeting its Mars capture orbit and crossing a major milestone in its seven-month journey to the Red Planet, the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) announced on Monday.
The spacecraft successfully completed TCM1 - its first trajectory correction manoeuvre (TCM), a crucial process in keeping Hope on the right direction towards Mars.
"TCM1 was a major milestone for us, not only because it is the first time we have deployed the spacecraft's Delta-V thruster but also because it defines our path to cruise Mars," said Omran Sharaf, project director of EMM.
Hope, the first interplanetary mission of the Arab world, blasted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre on July 20. And since then, it has been on an 'outstandingly accurate trajectory', exceeding the expectations of the EMM team.
"Hope is now on target to reach its Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI), requiring less adjustment to its course than we had originally planned," Sharaf said.
Read on: See Khaleej Times' complete coverage of the mission here.
How the manoeuvre works
When a spacecraft is sent to space, some deviations in its path are expected. Constraints, which are part of planetary protection protocols, also prevent it from following its desired path at the start of a mission, as tests confirm that it is performing well.
For these reasons, trajectory control manoeuvres are performed during the flight.
Hope is expected to make around seven TCMs in its 493-million-kilometre journey to Mars. And it is set to enter the Red Planet's orbit in February 2021.
Aiming to build the first full picture of the Martian climate, Hope carries three instruments to measure the planet's atmosphere and gather some data that no other mission had provided before.
For the first time, scientists in over 200 universities and research institutes globally will have access to a holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day, through different seasons. This study, experts said, will help the world compare and understand Earth's climate better.
The Emirates Mars Mission is part of a long-term integrated effort to create economic opportunity around leadership in space sciences, research and exploration.
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