DUBAI: The UAE’s Hope probe has achieved its main goal of orbiting Mars for two years, and the UAE Mars mission has expanded to study Mars’ moons, it was announced Thursday.
The UAE Mars mission Hope Probe, the first Arab-led planetary exploration mission, is celebrating its second year orbiting the Red Planet as it transitions to a new orbit, senior officials told a news conference.
The orbital shift will allow the Hope probe to fly within about 150 kilometers and capture unprecedented data on Deimos, the smaller and outermost of Mars’ two natural satellites.
The new historic move will allow the Hope probe to transition into a new elliptical orbit around Mars after using its speed change to perform a Lambert orbit transfer maneuver. The new orbit will help gather data on Deimos while allowing the probe to continue its original mission and capture data on the Martian atmosphere.
Compared with the red planet’s second moon Phobos, Deimos is the least observed. Phobos has been widely observed since its discovery in 1969. Deimos orbits Mars in a much larger orbit, orbiting Mars once every 30 hours.
“The deimos campaign aims to provide the international scientific community with never-before-seen observations and data. The Kibo probe will capture a high cadence of images and data as it flies by the irregularly shaped, cratered satellite at different times.” Engineer explain. Hessa Al Matroushi, Chief of Science for the UAE Mars Mission.
The first flyby of Deimos began in late January and lasted until February 2023, allowing the Hope probe’s Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI), UAE Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) and the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMUS), to capture high-frequency images and detailed observations of the Moon.
To achieve the orbit transfer maneuver, the Hope probe completed two-thirds of the way using its main thrusters in September 2022 and January 2023, marking the first time the thrusters were activated remotely to make necessary orbital corrections.
The Hope probe currently orbits Mars in an elliptical orbit between 20,000 and 43,000 kilometers, tilted 25 degrees from Earth, giving it the unique ability to orbit the planet every 55 hours and capture comprehensive data every 9 days. A slight change in the probe’s orbit will allow it to capture new observations of Deimos, while simultaneously capturing data on the Red Planet’s atmosphere.
In fact, Deimos’ flyby burn changed Kozomi’s orbit so little that the overall primary mission objective remained completely unchanged.
The Hope Probe is the culmination of a national space sector development and knowledge transfer effort that began in 2006. Emirati engineers work with international partners to design and develop the UAE’s spacecraft and national manufacturing and engineering capabilities.
The rover is equipped with three measurement tools to analyze the Martian atmosphere. Weighing 1,350 kilograms, about the size of a small SUV, the probe was designed and developed by engineers at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center in collaboration with partners from leading international academic institutions, including the University of Colorado Boulder for Atmosphere and Space Physics Laboratory, Space Science Laboratory (SSL), UC Berkeley and Arizona State University (ASU).
The UAE Mars mission has released six batches of data on the Red Planet. The first batch will be 110 GB in size and will be released on October 1, 2021, while the second batch will be 76.5 GB in size and will be released on January 12, 2022.
The third tranche of 57 GB of data was published on April 1, 2022, while the fourth tranche provided 118.5 GB of data. The fifth batch of data provides 236.8GB of data for the scientific community.
The sixth batch of data provided several observations, captured by the probe’s Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) and Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS), while the Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI) captured the high tempo of dust movement on Mars Image Mars, June 6, June 13, June 22, June 27, July 13, July 22, and August 12, 2022.
A series of EXI color composites taken on September 24 show a large dust storm and dense fog blanketing the Valle de Marineris and surrounding areas from early morning until noon, and the storm is rapidly evolving.