Emirates to Place Their Hope Around Mars

As previously reported here on Next Horizons Space Flight, the United Arab Emirates are planning on partaking in the 2020 Mars launch availability, which runs from July to September. NASA and CSNA are both also planning on taking advantage of this availability with their own landers.

Emirates Mars Mission video outline. (Image credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center)

The Emirates Mars Mission or Mars Hope mission will be the UAE’s first foray into the solar system, with their previous four launches being Earth observation satellites and a CubeSat. This mission will send an orbiter around the Red Planet to continue research into Martian weather. Particularly, Hope is set to delve into the mystery of why Mars is losing hydrogen and oxygen into space and why Mars has had such drastic climate changes. This will be accomplished by studying daily and seasonal weather cycles, observing weather events in the lower atmosphere (like dust storms), and observing differences in weather in different regions.

Mars Hope Infographic (Image credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center)

Hope is a joint venture between UAE and three American Universities: the University of Colorado, University of California, Berkeley, and Arizona State University. UAE is building the satellite bus and has procured launch vehicle services from JAXA, the Japanese space agency, while the universities are building the instrumentation packages.

The instruments on board Hope are various forms of weather detection instruments, such as would be used to observe the Earth:

  • Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) is a multi-band camera capable of taking high resolution images with a spatial resolution of better than 8 km. It uses a selector wheel mechanism consisting of 6 discrete bandpass filters to sample the optical spectral region: 3 UV bands and 3 visible (RGB) bands. EXI measures properties of water, ice, dust, aerosols and abundance of ozone in Mars’ atmosphere. The instrument is being developed at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado, in collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) at Dubai, UAE.
  • Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) is a far-ultraviolet imaging spectrograph that measures emissions in the spectral range 100–170 nm to measure global characteristics and variability of the thermosphere, and hydrogen and oxygen coronae. Design and development is led by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.
  • Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) is an interferometric thermal infrared spectrometer developed by the Arizona State University and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. It examines temperature profiles, ice, water vapour and dust in the atmosphere. EMIRS will provide a view of the lower and middle atmosphere. Development is led by the Arizona State University with support from MBRSC.

The launch is set for July 2020, and if it does not make that window the backup will be in 2022. Hope is part of an overarching program from UAE, which consists of three very human goals. H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum mentioned these in a statement upon the announcement of this program.

“The first message is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again; the second message is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible, and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge and the third message is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions, and you can reach even to space.”

H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The United Arab Emirates see this mission as an investment in their people and in science. As such they also consider this mission part of the overarching world-wide plan to colonize the Red Planet by 2117.

We at Next Horizons Spaceflight are incredibly excited about this year’s Mars window and the missions which will be heading into the solar system. Stay tuned for any updates or news!

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