This weekend, the UAE’s National Space Agency announced that their Hope probe had sent back its first image of Mars. Earlier in the week, after a seven-month journey, the space probe successfully entered into orbit around Mars.
The process of entering orbit around a planet is tricky. The spacecraft has to fire its engines and slow down enough to be captured by the planet’s gravity—a process known as fuel burn. Hope successfully entered the “capture orbit” of Mars last Tuesday. After a nail-biting 11-minute wait, signals from the probe reached the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai, and the country could celebrate.
The next day, 15,300 miles from the surface of Mars, the first image of the planet was taken. This image shows the largest volcano in the Solar System, Olympus Mons, as well the Tharsis Montes, three volcanoes that sit in a row. This image is the first of many more to come while the space probe completes its mission. The probe will spend at least a year orbiting Mars, finding out more about the planet’s weather and seasonal changes.
The data collected by the space probe will be available to scientists all over the world, hopefully by September this year. NASA’s Perseverance rover and China’s Tianwen-1 rover-orbiter will also examine Mars during this time, so we are likely to find out a lot more about the red planet in the near future!
Hope’s arrival was timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE’s seven emirates, and the UAE hopes that this mission will be an inspiration to the country’s young people.
Want to teach your class more about Mars and space travel?
Tigtag Junior (ages 4–7):
Tigtag (ages 7–11):
Twig World (ages 11–16):