UAE's Hope space mission sends first pictures of Mars

14 February 2021, 13:25 | Updated: 14 February 2021, 13:28

The image from the Hope Probe shows volcanos on the surface of Mars.
The image from the Hope Probe shows volcanos on the surface of Mars. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The United Arab Emirates' Hope space probe has returned its first image of Mars, with the country heralding it as a "defining moment".

Taken at 20:36pm GMT on Wednesday, the image shows sunlight just coming across the surface of Mars, revealing the largest volcano in the Solar System: Olympus Mons.

The Red Planet's north pole can also be seen in the upper left of the image.

The Amal, or Hope, space probe is the Arab world's first interplanetary mission and only the second country to successfully enter Mars' orbit on the first try.

UAE's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, tweeted: "The transmission of the Hope Probe's first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration.

"We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity."

The image, taken around 25,000km above the surface of the Red Planet, is hoped to be the first of many sent back from the probe.

A live tracker for the Hope Probe reveals the probe is moving at 79,726km/hr with respect. to the sun, at a distance of 19,854km from Mars.
A live tracker for the Hope Probe reveals the probe is moving at 79,726km/hr with respect. to the sun, at a distance of 19,854km from Mars. Picture: Emirates Mars Mission

The craft is set to circle the equator, allowing it to get a complete picture of the planet every nine days.

The Emirates Mars Mission has said they hope the probe "will help answer key questions about the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year".

The probe was launched from from Tanegashima, Japan, on July 20 2020 and successfully entered into Mars' orbit on Tuesday.

The craft had to execute a complex 27-minute breaking manoeuvre using six thrusters to ensure it did not fly off into deeper space.

Thousands watched in anticipation, as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was lit up with a flashing countdown ahead of the announcement that the probe had inserted into the Red Planet's orbit.

The Burj Khalifa was lit up in a countdown to the orbit insertion on Tuesday.
The Burj Khalifa was lit up in a countdown to the orbit insertion on Tuesday. Picture: HopeMarsMission

Deputy Ruler of Dubai Maktoum Bin Mohammed said the country was "immensely proud of our achievement".

"A journey that began from the desert dunes is now embracing space. This is a Nation whose leaders believed and invested in a generation that today led us to Mars.

"A new chapter is born, bringing Arabs to the forefront of science and innovation".

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