The UAE has launched its Hope Probe mission to Mars in the early hours of 20 July.
The probe, known as 'Al-Amal' in Arabic, took off in a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. It is the first Arab interplanetary mission bound for Mars.
The mission was delayed twice last week due to bad weather.
It is understood Earth and Mars are aligned at their closest point once every two years. This event occurs between 15 July and 13 August 2020, providing the optimal window for the launch.
The next stage
The probe separated from the rocket an hour after take-off and the first signals have since been received.
Hope is expected to enter the Martian orbit by February 2021, to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE. The probe will remain in orbit, at heights of 12,4000–27,000 miles above the red planet's surface, giving planetary scientists their first global view of Martian weather at all times of day.
Once #HopeMarsMission gets to Mars in February of next year, it will go into a temporary orbit initially as it slows down, and then adjust itself into its happy science orbit. pic.twitter.com/uQNpCIQc81"— Dr. Tanya Harrison (@tanyaofmars) July 19, 2020
Over687 days – one Martian year – the mission will investigate dust storms and other weather phenomena near the Martian surface. Data collected will be shared with more than 200 research centres worldwide.