Space

‘Defining moment’ as Hope probe transmits its breathtaking first image of Mars

The United Arab Emirates Space Agency on Sunday released its first photo of Mars, taken by its Hope Probe.

“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,” Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on Twitter.

He added: “We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity.”

On Tuesday, the UAE mission became the first from an Arab country to reach the red planet, Earth’s neighbour. Space experts put the chance of entering Mars orbit at about 50 percent, CNBC reported.

The Hope Probe took about seven months to reach Mars. The UAE agency planned for it to orbit the red planet for a full Martian year, about two Earth years, studying the planet’s atmosphere, according to the agency.

The first image transmitted from the UAE probe was captured from 25,000 km above the planet’s surface, according to the agency.

The UAE Hope Probe was one of three spacecraft due to reach the red planet this month. China’s Tianwen-1 craft, which shared its first photo of Mars on February 5, arrived a day after the UAE probe. NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to land on the planet next Thursday.

In a video posted on Friday, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory described the period of entry, descent, and landing on the planet as “seven minutes of terror.”

After breaking the Martian atmosphere, Perseverance will take about seven minutes to reach the ground, said Swati Mohan, Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation & Control Operations lead.

“If there’s one thing we know, it’s that landing on Mars is never easy,” said Marc Etkind, NASA associate administrator for communications, in a statement posted on NASA’s website.

When Perseverance lands on Thursday, it will have a solar-powered helicopter called Ingenuity in its belly. NASA plans to launch one or more flights within 30 days, according to its website.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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