What is Hope?
- The launch of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first mission to Mars which was scheduled to take off from Tanegashima Space Center, in Japan, has been delayed.
- It must be launched in July, since Earth and Mars orbit the Sun at different rates and are aligned at their closest points only once every two years.
- The mission is being executed by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, UAE’s space agency.
- Hope is the Arab world’s first mission to Mars.
Objectives: The Emirates Mars Mission called “Hope” aims to create mankind’s first integrated model of the Red planet’s atmosphere.
- It will orbit Mars to study the Martian atmosphere and its interaction with outer space and solar winds which should help scientists understand why Mars’ atmosphere is decaying into space.
- Evidence resembling dry river beds and minerals indicates that the ancient Martian atmosphere was much warmer, allowing water to flow on its surface.
- Therefore, scientists want to study the past environments that would have existed on Mars to understand how a planet’s habitability can change over time.
- In 2017, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft revealed that solar wind and radiation had destroyed the Martian atmosphere from the planet, which could have supported life billions of years ago.
- The destruction changed the Mars’ atmosphere into too cold and thin to provide stability to liquid water, which is essential for life.
- No human has set foot on Mars yet because the atmosphere on Mars is very thin, consisting of mostly carbon dioxide with no breathable oxygen, making it difficult for astronauts to survive there.
- The landscape of Mars is freezing, with no protection from the Sun’s radiation or passing dust storms.
Why is Mars exploration important?
- Although Mars is starkly different in many ways from the Earth, it has several Earth-like features– such as clouds, polar ice caps, canyons, volcanoes, and seasonal weather patterns.
- In the past few years, Mars missions have been able to discover the possible presence of liquid water on the planet, either in the subsurface today or at some point in its past.
- Possible presence of water has made space explorers more curious about whether the planet can sustain life.
NASA is set to launch its Perseverance rover, part of its Mars 2020 mission between July 30-August 15 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rover will explore ancient habitability, seek signs of ancient life, gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth and demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration.