A Japanese H-IIA rocket carrying a United Arab Emirates Mars spacecraft has been placed on the launch pad for Monday's scheduled liftoff for the Arab world's first interplanetary mission, officials said Sunday, July 19, 2020, in Japan.
The rocket's upper stage released the Emirates Mars Mission, or Hope, spacecraft, almost an hour after liftoff.
Omran Sharaf, the project director of Emirates Mars Mission, told journalists in Dubai about an hour and a half after the liftoff that the probe was sending signals.
The spacecraft is created to monitor Mars from above the planet using an infrared spectrometer, an ultraviolet spectrometer and a camera.
The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) has cost the nation $200 million, according to Sarah al-Amiri, the UAE's Minister for Advanced Sciences and the Mars mission's deputy project manager. It was launched in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, using its H2A202 rocket that is apart of the H-IIA launch vehicle family.
Al Amiri explained that the role of the mission is focussed on understanding the "atmospheric dynamics of Mars", studying Mars's climate and assessing weather events in its lower and upper atmosphere and across the geographic areas of Mars's surface.
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"It's like a three-way race to Mars this year and the UAE is headed to be the first country to reach Mars before U.S. and China", Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, was quoted as saying by the Gulf News. The Emirates have also pledged to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117.
"As citizens and residents we are proud to be part of this visionary and innovative era of the UAE's growth".
This has seen Emirati engineers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre working with partners around the world to develop the UAE's spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities.
It will spend a full Martian year orbiting the Red Planet, which is 687 Martian days, and the UAE hopes it'll be able to send back a whole lot of data and observations during its trip.
The UAE first announced plans for its mission to Mars in 2014. In recent years, Japan has increasingly stepped up trade and defense ties with the UAE, and now seeks to expand its space business. The U.S. plans to send a rover named Perseverance to search for signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for return to Earth. Next up is China's Tianwen-1 mission to place a lander and 530-pound rover on the planet.
The launch also received coverage in The Times of Israel, which described the mission as "a source of inspiration for Arab youth, in a region too often wracked by sectarian conflicts and economic crises". Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned in 2024.