The UAE mission last week became the first from an Arab country to reach Earth’s nearest neighbour Mars. Space experts put the chance of entering Mars orbit at about 50 percent, with Omran Sharaf, Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) Project Director, describing the preparation phase as “hardcore”.
The Hope Probe took almost seven months to travel approximately 180 million miles to reach the Red Planet.
Then, from its vantage point in orbit, the UAE space agency plans for the instrument to peer at the planet for a full Martian year – the equivalent of two Earth years – to analyse the planet’s thin atmosphere and climate to learn more about own.
Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was among the first to share the stunning overview of the world.
He tweeted: ”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.
READ MORE: Stephen Hawking’s creation theory unravelled in Vatican visit with Pope
“We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity.”
This stunning picture was shot by the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) instrument from an altitude of 15,500 miles (24,700km) above the Martian surface at 8.36 UTC on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 – just one day after arriving at Mars.
The Emirates Mars Mission team revealed some of the hidden highlights of the space photo.
EMM said: “The colour is created from a composite of red, green, and blue Emirates eXploration Imager images.
“Ice clouds are present over the southern highlands (lower right) as well as surrounding the volcano Alba Mons (upper left).
“Clouds can also be seen above the limb (top of image and middle right, when looking between the planet and space).
“These clouds, seen in different geographic regions and at different times of day, provide a preview of EMM’s contributions to our understanding of the Martian atmosphere.”
The UAE Hope Probe is one of a trio of spacecraft scheduled to reach Mars in February alone.
China’s Tianwen-1 craft, which shared its first photo of Mars at the beginning of the Month, arrived just one day after Hope.
And the US space agency NASA’s Perseverance rover will make its eagerly-anticipated landing on Mars on Thursday.
In a video posted on Friday, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory described the period of Perseverance’s entry, descent and landing on the planet as “seven minutes of terror.”
Marc Etkind, NASA associate administrator for communications, said: ”If there’s one thing we know, it’s that landing on Mars is never easy.”