By Gavin Gibbon
Hope Probe transferred to Japan ahead of July launch to Red Planet
The UAE’s efforts to explore Mars have continued unabated despite the outbreak of coronavirus, with its Hope Probe transferred to Japan, where it is set to launch in July, destined for the Red Planet.
The extraordinary mission to transport the massive probe to Tanegashima Island in Japan was coordinated by the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, under strict health and safety guidelines in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
It involved an initial 12-hour operation to transfer the probe from the centre to Al Maktoum International Airport via a special truck that included sensitive scientific equipment.
The world’s largest cargo plane then transported the Hope Probe from Dubai to Japan on an 11-hour journey, while it took over 44 hours from arriving at Japan’s Nagoya Airport, over land and sea, to reach the departure station on Tanegashima Island.
Sara Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said: “Today, we must celebrate the scientific achievement of our engineers, scientists and technicians. This milestone will become an integral part of the UAE’s history that we collectively take pride in. This project will become the largest scientific addition to the Arab World’s notable achievements in the space and sciences industry.”
The Hope Probe’s mission to Mars, the first by any Arab or Muslim-majority country, is scheduled to start in mid-July 2020 from the Tanegashima Space Centre using the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI H2A) platform and is expected to reach the Red Planet’s orbit in the first quarter (February) of 2021.
It will become the first to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers and will help answer key questions about the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases in space.