What to expect throughout Hope Probe’s half an hour

The Hope probe mission, Emirates 1st interplanetary mission, is reaching the most final point in its mission today, and people around the world are waiting with high belief.

The Hope orbiter is a UAE Space Agency unmanned space exploration mission to Mars, which was launched in July20 from Japan. The probe has travelled around 7 months on its journey of 493 million kms, which it will fulfill today. At that point, it will reach the crucial ‘Mars Orbit Insertion’ (MOI) stage. Which means the probe will require to slow down to enable it to be capture by Mars’ gravity, to orbit the red planet. That would make the Emirates the 5th country to reach the Mars orbit, after successful missions by the US, Russia, the India, and EU.

The Mars Orbit Insertion stage is called half an hour of terror! As Probe reaches close to the Martian orbit, a special manoeuvre will be performed to low its speed. In accordance with the planet’s gravity to capture the spacecraft into orbit. For orbit insertion, 6 Delta V thrusters will autonomously perform an action to fire the thrusters for 27 minutes to slow down the speed of the probe from more than 10 thousand kmsph per hour down to 18,000kmph.

There is one difficulty that the scientists will have no control. It is because of the distance between Earth-Mars, any command sent to the spacecraft takes 11 minutes each time. Hence, all steps are pre-programmed. Also, contact will temporarily lost as Hope travels behind Mars. By creating a blackout period with no communication for a little time.

More than 50% of Mars missions fail. Failure to perform the manoeuvre as planned could prevent the spacecraft from entering orbit. MOI will commence at 7.30pm (UAE time) tonight. But the signal confirming the start of the manoeuvre will reach Earth only 11 minutes later. And half of the fuel will destoy during this manoeuvre.

Nasa’s Deep Space Network radio antenna in Madrid, Spain, will be the 1st to know if orbit insertion was successful in Mars. Once insertion got successful , the mission will spend some time in the capture orbit as a transition to science phase.

Throughout this phase, Hope’s instruments test for 2 months before it transitions to its science orbit. Using 3 further manoeuvres, which will be completed by April21.

The orbiter will study the Martian atmosphere over 685 Earth days. The data from the mission will be easily available shortly after the spacecraft enters its final orbit.

Written by Martha Paul


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