July 2020 may seem a long way into the future, but for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States NASA, it will be here in the blink of an eye. That specific month and specific year holds great importance as the UAE and NASA will launch their mission to Mars, with UAE becoming the first Arab nation to hold this honor.
The Hope spacecraft, as it has been properly named, would be set to arrive at Mars during the first quarter of 2021. This happens to coincide with UAE’s 50th anniversary of its founding. Back to the importance of the July 2020 timeframe. The main and only significant importance of this date is that this is when Hope has a brief launch window. Earth and Mars orbit our sun at much different rates, allowing for their closest point of alignment only once every two years. If this mission, for some reason, is not ready at any part, UAE and NASA may not get another chance to launch this space mission.
The Hope Spacecraft
Built from aluminum, the UAE space mission aircraft, Hope is not large. It comes in measuring at approximately 7 feet wide by 9 and a half feet high and will weigh a little more than 3,300 pounds. Picture a small car and you will get an overall visual of how big this spacecraft will be.
The goals of the Mars mission are many. Mars is losing its atmosphere, so one main goal for Hope is to find out why. Hope will track behavior and escape of hydrogen and oxygen on the Red Planet. Hope will also look for connections in today’s weather and the ancient atmosphere of Mars. UAE, through Hope, will also be looking to create a complete, and first of its kind, global picture of the atmospheric daily and seasonal changes on Mars.
The Hope Team
The UAE Hope team is large in number, 75 strong, and are divided across a number of amazing groups that include: Ground Station, Logistics, Mission Operation, Launch Vehicle, Spacecraft, and Project Science Education and Outreach. Not only will UAE be working together with NASA but research institutes and universities will be lending a hand in this amazing collaboration.
Hard work and passion are bringing this mission to life. July 2020 can’t get here soon enough.