As a part of its efforts to bolster its technological and scientific capabilities, and most importantly decrease its dependence on oil, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Monday, launched its first mission to Mars.
UAE's first mission to Mars was set to take off on July 14. However, it was delayed twice due to inclement weather. According to Minister for Advanced Sciences Sarah Amiri, the Emirates Mars Mission has cost $200 million.
Joins List of Active Mars Missions
The Hope Probe blasted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center at 1:58 a.m. UAE time/6:58 a.m. Japanese time Monday (2158 GMT Sunday) for a seven-month journey to the red planet, where it will orbit and send back data about the atmosphere. Just over an hour after launch, the probe deployed solar panels to power its systems and established radio communication with the mission on earth.
There are currently eight active missions exploring Mars; some orbit the planet and some have landed on its surface. China and the United States each plan to send another this year. The first mission aims to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time, studying daily and seasonal changes.
Ambitious Plans for Mars
The UAE first announced plans for the mission in 2014 and launched a National Space Programme in 2017 to develop local expertise. Its population of 9.4 million, most of whom are foreign workers, lacks the scientific and industrial base of the big space-faring nations.
It has an ambitious plan for a Mars settlement by 2117. Hazza al-Mansouri became the first Emirati in space last September when he flew to the International Space Station.
To develop and build the Hope Probe, Emiratis and Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) worked with U.S. educational institutions. The MBRSC space center in Dubai will oversee the spacecraft during its 494 million km (307 million miles) journey at an average speed of 121,000 km per hour.
(With inputs from agencies)