UAE Mars Probe On Its Way

UAE Mars Probe On Its Way

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope spacecraft successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima launch site in Japan this afternoon Eastern Daylight Time (July 20 in Japan). It is the first Arab planetary probe, built in cooperation with U.S. universities and launched by a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket.  If all goes according to plan, it will enter Mars orbit in early 2021, in time for the UAE’s celebration of its 50th anniversary.

Also called the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), launch was delayed twice because of weather, but everything went perfectly today with liftoff on time at 5:58:14 pm EDT (July 20, 6:58:14 am in Japan).

Hope atop its H-IIA rocket minutes before launch from Tanegashima, Japan. Screengrab.


UAE’s Hope spacecraft on its way seconds after launch. Screengrab.

The mission is the work of the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) and will be operated from its Mission Control Center.  The spacecraft was built here in the United States by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. LASP, Arizona State University and the University of California at Berkeley had roles in building its scientific instruments.

The assembled Mars Hope probe sits in a clean room. (Credit: MBRSC/Ken Hutchison via LASP website)

Dubbed the first “Mars weather satellite,” LASP director Dan Baker said it will “capture the ebbs and flows of weather on Mars to a degree that wasn’t possible before.”

It carries three instruments:

  • EMIRS: Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer
  • EXI: Emirates Exploration Imager
  • EMUS: Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer

Conceived and built in just six years, the mission is not just about science.  The UAE space agency lists six objectives, including “to inspire future Arab generations to pursue space science” and  “to establish the UAE’s position as a beacon of progress in the region.”

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