News | 7 Min Read
Posted on: Monday February 15, 2021Reading Time: 7 minutes
The UAE Hope Probe returned its first image of planet Mars yesterday within less than a week since it reached the Martian orbit. The image features Olympus Mon, which is the largest volcano in the solar system. In fact, three other large shield volcanoes can be seen in a line, including Ascraeus Mons, Arisia Mons, and Pavonis Mons.
The upper left of this image is the North pole of Mars. If you look towards the east, you will see Valles Marineris, the canyon system partly covered by clouds. Over the southern highlands in the lower right, there are ice clouds. Some of them can also be seen in the upper left, surrounding the volcano Alba Mon. The clouds can be seen in different geographic regions at different times during the day. They offer a preview of EMM’s contributions in gathering information about the Martian atmosphere.
The country leaders, including His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi respectively and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces simultaneously shared these images on Twitter this Sunday, February 14, 2021. The image was taken when their spacecraft entered Martian orbit a few days back.
The Hope Probe has traveled over 493 million km during the past seven months. The first image was eagerly awaited by people in the UAE and other places around the world. Many more similar views of the planet are likely to follow after this image.
The spacecraft was put on a wide orbit to study the weather and climate system on the planet and see its full disk. This view can be usually obtained from Earth-based telescopes. However, it’s uncommon for satellites that are positioned towards Mars.
A Perfect Shot
The picture was captured from 24,700km above the Martian surface by Hope’s EXI instrument on Wednesday at 20:36 GMT. The EXI digital exploration camera is one of the EMM’s (Emirates Mars Mission) three scientific instruments. This camera can tolerate wavelength radiation and capture 12-megapixel images from around 25,000 km above the surface of Mars.
Hope Probe’s Other Scientific Instruments
Apart from the EXI digital exploration camera, Hope Probe’s other scientific instruments include the EMIRS (Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer) and EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer). The EMIRS studies the planet’s lower atmosphere in the infrared band.
It also measures the global distribution of ice clouds, water vapor, dust, and temperature profiles. It offers the details of the link between the upper and lower atmosphere based on EMUS and EXI observations.
The EMUS determines the variability and abundance of oxygen and carbon monoxide in the thermosphere on sub-seasonal timescales. It also checks the ultraviolet wavelength. Further, it calculates the three-dimensional variability and structure of hydrogen and oxygen in the exosphere, along with measuring any relative changes in the atmosphere.
What’s In The Future?
Hope Probe’s entry to Martian orbit is the end of four out of six stages of its journey into space. It started on July 20, 2020, to go as follows: Launch, Early Operations, Cruise, and The Mars Orbit Insertion. The probe is now stepping onto the ‘Transition to science’ phase before studying the atmosphere on Mars in the ‘science’ phase.
It will officially enter the science phase to get the first-ever planetwide pictures of atmospheric dynamics and 24×7 weather on Mars for one entire Martian year, i.e., 687 earth days, along with some additional data collection. The Hope Probe is a part of one of the cheapest missions compared to other mars missions around the world.