The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Hope spacecraft is on its way to Mars after a successful launch from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan.
A H-IIA rocket lifted off on Monday morning at 6:58 a.m. JST (5:58 p.m. EDT on Sunday). Hope separated from the second stage about an hour later and sent its first signal to controllers.
It is the first interplanetary mission undertaken by an Arab nation. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai developed the Mars orbiter in partnership with the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
Hope, which is also known as the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), will study the dynamics of the Red Planet’s atmosphere on a global scale.
Hope will study the Martian atmosphere with three instruments: Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer, Emirates Exploration Imager, and Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer.
“Using three scientific instruments on board of the spacecraft, EMM will provide a set of measurements fundamental to an improved understanding of circulation and weather in the Martian lower and middle atmosphere,” the UAE Space Agency said on its website.
“Combining such data with the monitoring of the upper layers of the atmosphere, EMM measurements will reveal the mechanisms behind the upward transport of energy and particles, and the subsequent escape of atmospheric particles from the gravity of Mars,” the website added.
Hope is scheduled to arrive at Mars in early February 2021 after a 200-day cruise.