Emirates 'Hope' mission sends first images from Mars

On February 9, the spacecraft entered the red planet’s orbit. The image from al-Amal was captured from a height of 24700 km from the surface. The arrival of Chinese and American space probes is expected in these days. Behind the Abu Dhabi space technology race is the Israel model in terms of defence and security.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The "Hope" space mission launched by the United Arab Emirates has sent the first images (see photo) of Mars, better known as the "red planet". On February 9, the spacecraft entered the Mars orbit, making the UAE the first Arab nation in history to have its own scientific mission in the planet closest to our earth.

The first image was followed by several others in succession. The "Hope" is following a wide orbit around the sphere, in order to be able to study the weather and climate systems, as well as being able to admire the entire planet in all its greatness. A "view", the experts explain, which is much more familiar to telescopes pointed from the earth, but very different from the images returned by the satellites that now gravitate around Mars.

The image released by "Hope" (al-Amal, in Arabic) was captured by on-board instruments at a height of 24700 km from the surface of Mars at 20.36 on 10 February, one day after its arrival on the red planet.

The transmission of the Hope Probe's first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration," the mission's twitter account stated. "We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity.”

In these days the Chinese Tianwen-1 mission is also expected to enter Mars orbit. And, shortly, it will be the turn of the United States with the Perseverance spacecraft which should arrive on February 18 and try to land near an equatorial crater called Jezero.

The purpose of the mission launched by the UAE is to trace how energy moves through the atmosphere, from bottom to top, and the dispersion in space of neutral atoms of hydrogen and oxygen, a legacy of an abundant presence of water on Mars.  And why a once hot and humid planet it has become the cold, dry and dusty world of today.

With this first mission, the Emirates plan to become the regional centre of scientific research for space technologies in the 50th anniversary of the nation’s independence. The program was born in May 2015, to be completed in 2021 with a budget of 200 million dollars and under the slogan "The impossible is possible". It is the confirmation of the aspirations in the space race of the Arab federation, to diversify its economy and prepare for the post-oil era, in the context of a production still linked to black gold.

Finally, analysts and experts underline the parallel with Israel in the attempt to strengthen space technologies in terms of defence and security, with the use of drones and artificial intelligence against piracy and espionage.

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