Sunday 28 february 2021 - 8:21:13 am

European Space Agency looks forward to ‘Hope’s exciting new discoveries’

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By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 10th February 2021 (WAM) -- The European Space Agency (ESA), which had successfully made it to Mars in 2003, is looking forward to the UAE Mars Mission’s "exciting new discoveries" about the Red Planet.

Following the Hope Probe’s successful insertion into orbit around the Mars on Tuesday evening, ESA in a statement to Emirates News Agency (WAM) said, "It’s another remarkable milestone for the space programme of the UAE and a great success for the UAE Space Agency, the Mohammad bin Rashid Space Centre and involved research establishments of the UAE.

"We look forward to the important and exciting new discoveries about Mars that this mission is sure to make."

Hope as extra set of eyes on Mars

The ESA added that "To follow UAE’s success story over the last ten years and to see Hope reaching Mars’ orbit truly rejoices the international space community. It makes the UAE and its engineers and scientists even more attractive as partners in international space endeavours."

The agency said Hope Probe would provide an extra set of eyes on Mars, along with the ESA’s existing Mars missions.

Mars Express, launched by the ESA in December 2003, has been orbiting the Red Planet for the past 17 years, making the ESA the third space agency to make such a feat after the former Soviet Union space programme and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) joined this exclusive club in 2014 and now the UAE has become its fifth member.

Hope to complement existing missions

Schiaparelli, a technology demonstration vehicle carried by the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) was launched in 2016, as part of the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation and the ESA. They have postponed the 2020 launch of the second ExoMars mission to the Red Planet to 2022 due to certain technical reasons.

The ESA explained to WAM that three instruments would build on Mars Express and TGO’s atmospheric investigations: EXI multi-spectral framing camera with band passes for aerosols, EMIRS-TIR spectrometer for temperature profiles and aerosol retrievals, and EMUS – a far-UV instrument for thermosphere investigations.

"Hope will provide an extra set of eyes on Mars’ weather and climate: It is important that we can do continual monitoring of Mars in order to monitor atmospheric circulation and weather patterns, and place constraints on the sources and sinks of chemical species."

Data to help reconstruct climate evolution

The agency continued that "The science of Hope will tell us about the present-day climate on Mars, and just as we have discovered with Trace Gas Orbiter and Mars Express, clues in the data may help reconstruct the climate evolution over time and place constraints on Mars' ancient atmosphere."

Further explaining the complementary aspect of Hope Probe, the ESA added, "The previous missions were trying to get closer and closer to the planet in attempt to achieve higher and higher spatial resolution which is essential for surface studies, but not always optimal for atmospheric research."

"Hope will provide a complementary global view of atmospheric phenomena, thus filling the gap in context atmospheric imaging," it explained.

The agency stressed that all other missions will benefit from the new collaborations, "bringing new people, new ideas, and new capabilities."

Inspirational to next generations

Expanding the planetary community would be an important result of the Hope mission, the ESA added.

The Hope mission is a huge success for the UAE as it has clearly already been very inspirational for the next generation, not just in the Middle East but across the world, the agency noted.

It added, "It has helped turn more eyes outwards towards the stars and brightened their future. As the saying goes, ‘Hope springs eternal’ [said when you continue to hope that something will happen, although it seems unlikely] "The UAE has just entered the small but rapidly expanding group of spacefaring nations with interest and capabilities in Mars exploration, thus giving more opportunities for nations and agencies like ESA to establish partnerships in future as we together continue the search for life on Mars and work to finally make human Mars exploration a reality."

Hope to help human mission to Mars

Ahead of the Hope Probe’s launch last year, the ESA had told WAM that Hope Probe would help give a better understanding of the global dust storms, which would be crucial for future human missions to Mars.

For the UAE, the Hope Probe is the first step towards its ambitious project to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117, in collaboration with major international space institutions.

The ESA has maintained that the search for life is a major element of all present and future Mars missions.

"Ultimately, though, Mars exploration plans should result in an even greater adventure - a human mission. For a human Mars expedition to be possible, new technologies will have to be developed and tested," according to an article published on ESA website.

"A human Mars mission, perhaps with the Moon as a first target or even as a way station to the Red Planet, would represent the culmination of the programme's efforts. And just incidentally, it would also guarantee that there was life on Mars: human life," said the article.

 

WAM/Binsal AbdulKader