Minimize EMM Hope

Hope / Al-Amal — EMM (Emirates Mars Mission)

Spacecraft     Launch    Mission Status     Sensor Complement    Ground Segment    References

Hope is a planned space exploration probe mission to Mars with a scheduled launch in July 2020. It is being built by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) of Dubai, UAE (United Arab Emirates) along with its partners: the University of Colorado, Arizona State University, and the University of California, Berkeley. The mission is being carried out by a team of Emirati engineers in collaboration with foreign research institutions, and is a contribution towards a knowledge-based economy in the UAE. The probe has been named Hope (Arabic: Al-Amal) - a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs according to Sheikh Mohammed. 1) 2)

Some background:

The Hope Probe will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers when it reaches the red planet's orbit in 2021. It will help answer key questions about the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year. 3)

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center is responsible for the execution and supervision of all stages of the design, development and launch of the Hope Probe in 2020. The UAE Space Agency is funding and supervising procedures and necessary details for the implementation of this project. Following a journey of several months, the probe is expected to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of the Union.

The mission is being carried out by a team of Emirati engineers in collaboration with foreign research institutions, and is a contribution towards a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.

Science objectives: The probe will study daily and seasonal weather cycles, weather events in the lower atmosphere such as dust storms, and how the weather varies in different regions of Mars. It will attempt to answer the scientific questions of why Mars' atmosphere is losing hydrogen and oxygen into space and the reason behind Mars' drastic climate changes.

The UAE’s Hope Probe team will:

• Integrate with the global Mars science community on key questions that no other mission has addressed

• Study why Mars is losing its upper atmosphere to space by tracking the behavior and escape of hydrogen and oxygen, the building blocks of water

• Investigate the connection between the lower and upper levels of the Martian atmosphere

• Create the first global picture of how the Martian atmosphere changes through the day and between seasons

• Observe weather phenomena, such as dust storms, changes in temperature, and how the atmosphere interacts with the topography

• Reveal the causes of Martian surface corrosion

• Search for connections between today’s weather and the ancient climate of the red planet.


The “Hope” spacecraft, provides the capabilities required to achieve and maintain the Mars orbit post-launch, supply the described payloads with needed structural support, power, thermal control, data handling,pointing, and fault management responses, send science, ancillary, and housekeeping data to the ground, and receive command data from mission operations centers.

The primary structure consists of composite honeycomb panels and a propulsion subsystem capable of changing orbit trajectory, orbit braking to Mars target orbit plane and orbit maintenance. In space, Hope generates and stores power using two deployable solar arrays and batteries and communicates with Earth-based ground antennas using a 1.85 m diameter high gain antenna and coupled low gain antennas. 4) 5)

The Emirates Mars Mission has a total mass, including fuel, of 1500 kg. It is a hexagonal prism, 2.37 m wide by 2.90 m tall, constructed of honeycomb aluminum panels with composite facesheets, with three solar panel wings affixed to the top platform. The solar panels provide 600 W at Mars, charging batteries to run the spacecraft. The spacecraft requirement is 477 W.

For attitude determination, Hope features a redundant pair of 3-axis inertial reference units and a redundant pair of star trackers. For attitude control, it has a set of four RWAs (Reaction Wheel Assemblies), as well as eight RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters for momentum dumping.

For communications, Hope utilizes the JHU/APL (Applied Physics Laboratory) Frontier Radio deep space transponder that performs uplink and downlink of data and supports deep space tracking for navigation purposes. The data transmissions are in X-band, through a 1.5 m diameter high-gain directional dish antenna mounted on the top deck of the spacecraft. It will allow communication rates of 1.6 Mbit/s at the minimum Earth-Mars distance to 250 kbit/s at its furthest point. There are also three low-gain antennas.


Figure 1: Photo of the EMM Hope in the clean room of the University of Colorado in Boulder (image credit: MBRSC)

Propulsion is provided by four to six 120 N thrusters mounted on the bottom of the spacecraft, using monopropellant hydrazine and a GHe pressurant tank, with maneuvering and attitude control via 8-12 5 N RCS (Reaction Control System) thrusters and a set of reaction wheels. Positional and orientation knowledge is provided by star trackers and coarse Sun sensors.

EMM design, development and testing phase commenced in mid-2014 with the launch scheduled in mid-2020 for a total of 6 years. The Hope Probe is designed for a three Earth-year lifetime. Its operational life consists of the Cruise Phase, for around seven months, that follows launch
and it will be limited to instrument checkout and calibration activities.


Figure 2: Illustration of the deployed Hope spacecraft (image credit: MBRSC)

Development status

• June 9, 2020: The first Arab space mission to Mars, armed with probes to study the Red Planet's atmosphere, is designed to inspire the region's youth and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs, officials said Tuesday. 6)

- The unmanned probe Al-Amal — Hope in Arabic — is to blast off from a Japanese space center on July 15, with preparations now in their final stages.

- The project is the next giant step for the United Arab Emirates, whose colossal skyscrapers and mega-projects have put it on the world map.

- The UAE sent its first astronaut into space last year and is also planning to build a "Science City" to replicate conditions on Mars, where it hopes to build a human settlement by 2117.

- Omran Sharaf, the mission's project manager, said that apart from the ambitious scientific goals, the mission was designed to hark back to the region's golden age of cultural and scientific achievements.

- "The UAE wanted to send a strong message to the Arab youth and to remind them of the past, that we used to be generators of knowledge," he told AFP.

- "People of different backgrounds and religion coexisted and shared a similar identity," he said of the Arab world, where many countries are today wracked by sectarian conflicts and economic crises.

- "Put your differences aside, focus on building the region, you have a rich history and you can do much more."

- Sarah al-Amiri, the mission's deputy project manager, said it was imperative that the project have a long-term scientific impact.

- "It is not a short-lived mission, but rather one that continues throughout the years and produces valuable scientific findings — be it by researchers in the UAE or globally," she told AFP.

- She said that the probe will provide a comprehensive image of the weather dynamics in Mars' atmosphere with the use of three scientific instruments.

- The first is an infrared spectrometer to measure the planet's lower atmosphere and analyze the temperature structure.

- The second, a high-resolution imager that will provide information about the ozone; and a third, an ultraviolet spectrometer to measure oxygen and hydrogen levels from a distance of up to 43,000 km from the surface.

- The three tools will allow researchers to observe the Red Planet "at all times of the day and observe all of Mars during those different times", Amiri said.

- Something we want to better understand, and that's important for planetary dynamics overall, is the reasons for the loss of the atmosphere and if the weather system on Mars actually has an impact on loss of hydrogen and oxygen," she said, referring to the two components that make up water.

- Sharaf said that fuelling of the probe is to begin next week.

- It is scheduled to launch on July 15 from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center and return to Earth in February 2021, depending on many variables including the weather.

• April 29, 2020: The UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center announced the safe transfer of the Mars Hope spacecraft to its launch site at Tanegashima Space Centre. The transfer was conducted in an 83-hour operation brought forward from its scheduled May shipment date because of the travel and movement restrictions imposed by international efforts to contain the impact of Covid-19. The Emirates Mars Mission, dubbed The Hope Probe, is the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation. 7)

- "We're on track for our July launch now," said EMM Mission lead Omran Sharaf. "Mitigation planning and early action, along with the support of our partners and the Japanese Government, saved the day - the whole operation was basically a race against the clock and Covid-19 to ensure we managed to have the spacecraft at Tanegashima ready for its July/August launch window to Mars."

- A team of engineers travelled to Tanegashima two weeks prior to the probe’s early transfer in order to go through quarantine in time to meet the arriving shipment. A second team of engineers accompanied the spacecraft, is now in quarantine and scheduled to be ready for final tests and preparation of the spacecraft to launch on a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket.

- The transfer operation saw an Antonov 124 heavy lifter carry the spacecraft in a specialized temperature and atmosphere-controlled container from Maktoum International Airport in The Emirates to Chubu Centrair International Airport at Nagoya, Japan. The spacecraft was then loaded onto a sea freighter, carried to Tanegashima’s Shimama Seaport and then transferred by night to the launch site.


Figure 3: Transferring the probe via a special truck (photo: AETOSWire)

- The Emirates Mars Mission was conceived to accelerate the development of the UAE’s space sector, education and science community. Led by MBRSC under the supervision of the UAE Space Agency, the mission will send the Mars Hope probe to orbit Mars in February 2021. Hope aims to build the first full picture of Mars’ climate throughout the Martian year.

- EMM and the Hope probe are the culmination of a knowledge transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers working with partners around the world to develop the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. The spacecraft was named as a symbol of hope for all Arab youth.


Figure 4: Photo of the deployed EMM Hope spacecraft at MBRSC prior to shipment (image credit: AETOSWire)

• April 2017: United Arab Emirates (UAE) has entered the space exploration race with the announcement of EMM (Emirates Mars Mission), the first Arab Islamic mission to another planet, in 2014. Through this mission, UAE is to send an unmanned probe, called Hope probe, to be launched in summer 2020 and reach Mars by 2021 to coincide with UAE's 50th anniversary. 8)

- The mission is designed to (1) characterize the state of the Martian lower atmosphere on global scales and its geo-graphic, diurnal and seasonal variability, (2) correlate rates of thermal and photochemical atmospheric escape with conditions in the collisional Martian atmosphere, and (3) characterize the spatial structure and variability of key constituents in the Martian exosphere.

- EMM has passed its MCR (Mission Concept Review), SRR (System Requirements Review), SDR (System Design Re-view), and PDR (Preliminary Design Review) phases. The mission is led by Emiratis from MohammedBin Rashid Space Centre, Dubai, UAE, and it will expand the nation’s human capital through knowledge transfer-programs set with international partners from the UC/LASP (University of Colorado/Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics), UCB/SSL (University of California Berkeley / Space Sciences Lab), and ASU/SESE (Arizona State University / School of Earth and Space Exploration).

• March 22, 2016: MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.) of Tokyo has received an order for H-IIA launch services from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for launch of the Emirates Mars Mission's (EMM) Hope spacecraft. In order to better understand the Martian atmosphere and climate, Hope is expected to be launched in the summer of 2020 on MHI's H-IIA launch vehicle, and is set to arrive at Mars in 2021 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. This order for the EMM marks MHI's fourth overseas contract for its launch services. 9)

- The UAE Space Agency (UAESA) takes administrative and financial responsibility for the EMM, and MBRSC is responsible for leading the design and development of Hope, as well as the execution of all phases of EMM, which includes technical coordination with the H-IIA launch vehicle.


Figure 5: Artwork: The UAE is the first Arab nation in history to send a probe to Mars (image credit: MBRSC)

Launch: The EMM Hope mission was launched on 19 July 2020 (21:58 UTC) from JAXA's TNSC (Tanegashima Space Center), Japan on a MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industry) H-IIA booster. 10) The launch vehicle trajectory was executed as planned, and at about 57 minutes after liftoff, separation of the HOPE spacecraft was confirmed.


Figure 6: The H-IIA rocket carrying the UAE's Hope Mars orbiter mission lifts off on 19 July 2020 (image credit: MHI webcast)

The launch was postponed several times due to bad weather conditions at the launch site.

Orbit: After a 200 day cruise to Mars, Hope will enter an elliptical, roughly 22000 x 44000 km orbit with a period of 55 hours and a 25 degree inclination. The periapsis is near the equator. Two years of science operations are planned, beginning in May 2021, with a possibility of a two-year extension to do more science into 2025.


Figure 7: Artist's rendition of the EMM Hope spacecraft in Mars orbit (image credit: UAESA) 11)

Mission Timeline, Operation and Lifetime.

Following Mars Orbit Insertion, the Capture Orbit phase is characterized by a highly elliptical 40-hour orbit (1000 km periapsis, 49,380 km apoapsis) from which all three instruments will be checked out and their science sequences tested, resulting in early observations of the Mars disk and upper-atmosphere (Ref. 4).

Following this, a Transition Orbit phase will be achieved by the gradual enlargement of the orbit over the course of approximately one month until it is optimized. The required science orbit for data collection is 22,000 km x 44,000 km. The Primary Science phase will begin and is expected to last 1 Martian year to meet the science requirements. The 22,000 km periapsis altitude during the Primary Science phase is sufficient to ensure global-scale, near-hemispheric views throughout the orbit and to allow daily coverage of all longitudes and local times. The orbital period will be approximately 55 hours which will enable a comprehensive characterization of Mars’ lower atmosphere variability as a function of location, time of day, and season, as well as an understanding of how physical processes in the lower atmosphere affect the rates of escape from the exosphere.


Figure 8: EMM mission timeline (image credit: MBRSC, NASA) 12)

Mission status

• March 29, 2021: The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, today announced it had commenced its transition from its capture orbit to its science orbit with the successful completion of a 510 second (8.36 minutes) burn of its thrusters. Barring the requirement for a minor course correction, the spacecraft is now in its final orbit of Mars and ready for its two-year science data gathering phase – the core aim of the mission. 13)

- "Although the Hope Probe is a huge achievement and a source of great national pride, its core objective, defined right from day one of this mission, is to build the first complete picture of Mars’ atmospheric dynamics." Said Omran Sharaf, EMM Project Director. "The Transition to Science Maneuver (TSM) was critically important and I can say was the last truly scary moment for the mission because there was a very real risk of losing the spacecraft during this last burn. We’re now assessing the results of that burn, but I can say we are confident that we will not need a further large correction maneuver."

- The transition saw the Hope Probe move from its 1,063 x 42,461 km capture orbit to a 20,000 x 43,000 km science orbit. The maneuver was the last scheduled ‘big burn’ in the spacecraft’s journey from its launch on the 20th July 2020. The science phase will commence on 14 April with a number of calibration and test runs that aim to establish a sound baseline for the accurate and efficient management of the measurements from the spacecraft’s three instruments. The mission’s two-year science data collection will formally commence on 23 May 2021, with data being made available globally in October.

- "Once we have established our stable science orbit and deployed our instruments, we can start building datasets and testing our systems with the live data," said Hessa Al Matroushi, EMM Science Lead. "This is the data we will be processing, formatting and sharing with the world’s science and academic communities openly through our website."

- The painstaking process of science data gathering consists of making repeated ‘passes’ around Mars and mapping each set of measurements to build a dynamic picture of the movement of dust, ice and water vapor throughout the planet’s atmospheric layers. As well as measuring Hydrogen, Oxygen, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone, the probe will capture variations in temperature. The unique elliptical 25º orbit of the Hope probe enables a planet-wide, high resolution sample to be taken each 225 hours (9.5 days).

- "If you imagine spinning a basketball on your finger and then wrapping it with wool as it spins, you get an idea of how Hope covers the whole planet over consecutive orbits. While we’re doing that, we’re constantly measuring with two spectrometers and an imager. These three data streams combine to give us a holistic, powerful and unique picture of Mars’ atmosphere that we hope will answer many, many questions we have about the planet and our theories regarding its atmospheric loss," said Al Matroushi.

- The Hope probe carries three science instruments: EXI (Emirates eXploration Imager) is a 12 megapixel digital camera that captures high-resolution images of Mars along with measuring water ice and ozone in the lower atmosphere through the UV bands.

- EMIRS (The Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer) collects information on surface and atmospheric temperatures and measures the global distribution of dust, ice cloud, and water vapor in the Martian lower atmosphere.

- EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer) measures oxygen and carbon monoxide in the thermosphere and the variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the exosphere.

- EMM and the Hope probe are the culmination of an international collaboration, knowledge transfer and development effort. The spacecraft and its instruments were designed and developed by MBRSC engineers working with academic partners, including LASP at the University of Colorado, Boulder; Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

- The Hope Probe’s historic journey to the Red Planet coincides with a year of celebrations to mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.

• March 18, 2021: Hope is carrying the latest version of APL’s Frontier radio within its communications subsystem. The Frontier is a versatile telecommunications device proven on missions from the Sun to Pluto and beyond. As a software-defined radio — where software is used to customize the radio for specific mission requirements — the Frontier is smaller and needs less power than other deep-space radios, and can send and receive signals in a wide range of frequencies. 14)

- The Frontier radio has considerable heritage, including its role in the APL-built Parker Solar Probe. It has performed beyond expectations over Hope’s seven-month trek to Mars, starting with the first signals sent home about an hour after liftoff from Japan’s Tanegashima launch site on July 19.

- “We worked with APL to specify and integrate the Frontier radio into Hope’s communications subsystem and were pleased with its performance through our reviews. We’re equally pleased with its performance throughout the mission so far,” said Khalifa Al Mheiri, telecommunications subsystem lead at MBRSC.

- “We look to improve on each version,” said Philip Huang, the Hope Frontier radio systems lead in APL’s Space Exploration Sector. “We track how the system operates on each mission, and with a few design changes we make it smaller, lighter and more efficient — all very important considerations for spacecraft missions.”

- APL’s Research and Exploratory Development Department (REDD) also assembled several circuit boards and electronics components. These electronic assemblies are plugged into systems such as the spacecraft flight computer, and the infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers.

- The work was largely performed in REDD’s Advanced Electrical Fabrication Group, which each year builds thousands of boards, cables and assemblies for projects across APL, addressing challenges in artificial intelligence, health care, national security and space exploration.

- “We’re a proud contributor to a truly international space mission,” said Allen Keeney, the group’s chief engineer. “It’s been an exciting chance to apply our skills and capabilities in a new arena.”

- Hope has been a collaboration between MBRSC and several American universities, with engineers and scientists from both nations teaming up to design and build the spacecraft’s systems and three onboard science instruments. The spacecraft was constructed at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics’ facility by a joint team of engineers from MBRSC and LASP.

- The Emirates Mars Mission is the culmination of a knowledge-transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers working with partners around the world to develop the UAE’s spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. The UAE is the first Arab nation to launch a mission to Mars.

• March 9, 2021: The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, achieved another major milestone on February 20th, 2021 with the return of the first science images from the Emirates Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), one of three science instruments on board the Hope probe. The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) released these images to mark one month since the Probe successfully entered into orbit around Mars on February 9, 2021. 15)


Figure 9: False-color images from the EMUS instrument. Violet (102.6 nm) and blue (121.6 nm) show the reflection of sunlight from the extended cloud of hydrogen atoms surrounding the planet. Green (130.4 nm) shows the reflection of sunlight from oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere. Orange (135.6 nm) shows energetic electrons causing other oxygen atoms to glow, similar to a fluorescent lamp. Red (140-160 nm) shows a combination of emissions coming from carbon monoxide molecules (image credit: Emirates Mars Mission / EMUS)

- “We are very excited indeed to be moving into our science orbit and starting the flow of planetary data we aim to gather over the coming Martian year,” said EMM Science Lead Hessa Al Matroushi.

- EMUS collected its first series of images from an orbit altitude of 36,000 km. Each false-color image represents light collected at a different ultraviolet wavelength providing information on the composition of Mars’ upper atmosphere. EMUS is the first instrument to orbit Mars with the capability to measure the extreme ultraviolet wavelength region.

- The EMUS spectrometer will measure global characteristics and variability of hydrogen and oxygen in the Mars upper atmosphere, right at the edge of space. The images show the measured signal from scattered sunlight off hydrogen and oxygen and emission from carbon monoxide in the Mars thermosphere, produced by the breakdown of water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

- “Moments like these, when the first science data comes back from an instrument you’ve been working on for years, are always special. With the EMUS instrument we’ll be able to see how the upper atmosphere of Mars behaves in new ways, and at new wavelengths,” noted Dr. Mike Chaffin, EMUS Instrument Scientist.

- “There is something unique and special about seeing the unseen universe with an ultraviolet instrument. Seen photons are sweet, but those unseen are sweeter,” said Dr. Justin Deighan, EMUS instrument scientist.

- EMUS observations will improve our knowledge of how the upper and lower atmosphere of Mars are connected and how the atmosphere has been slowly lost to space over the history of the solar system.

- “I was impressed by how similar these first images compared to our model simulations. But while we can predict many aspects of the Mars atmosphere, there are many unknowns that will be investigated throughout the mission, such as how the atmosphere has been lost to space over time,” said Dr. Greg Holsclaw, EMUS instrument scientist.

- “We have already amassed some 60 Gbits of data from Hope’s instruments in the mission so far,” said EMM Science Lead Hessa Al Matroushi. “Alongside early data streams from EMUS and its companion instrument EMIRS, we have also been able to take a range of highly detailed images of the planet using our imager, EXI, helped by the fact that when we’re at our closest point in our orbit, we’re on the sunny side of Mars.

- EMUS is one of the three science instruments on board the Hope Probe, developed by MBRSC and LASP engineers and scientists. The EMUS spectrometer, with a wide array of ultraviolet wavelengths, will allow scientists to investigate the composition of oxygen and hydrogen still present in Mars’ upper atmosphere.


Figure 10: Hope Probe Instrument highlight (image credit: MBRSC)

• February 14, 2021: The UAE's "Hope" probe sent back its first image of Mars, the national space agency said Sunday, days after the spacecraft successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit. 16)


Figure 11: The picture "captured three shield volanoes in line, along with the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, emerging into the early morning sunlight," it said in a statement. The image was taken from an altitude of 24,700 km above the Martian surface on Wednesday (10 Feb.), a day after the probe entered Mars' orbit, it said in a statement [image credit: UAESA (United Arab Emirates Space Agency), MBRSC, LASP, EMM-EXI]

- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE prime minister and Dubai's ruler, shared the colored image on Twitter. "The first picture of Mars captured by the first-ever Arab probe in history," he wrote.

- The mission is designed to reveal the secrets of Martian weather, but the UAE also wants it to serve as an inspiration for the region's youth.

- Hope became the first of three spacecraft to arrive at the Red Planet this month after China and the US also launched missions in July, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.

- The UAE's venture is also timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the nation's seven emirates.

- "Hope" will orbit the Red Planet for at least one Martian year, or 687 days, using three scientific instruments to monitor the Martian atmosphere.

- It is expected to begin transmitting more information back to Earth in September 2021, with the data available for scientists around the world to study.

• February 7, 2021: The United Arab Emirates’ first Mars mission, Hope, successfully entered orbit around the planet Feb. 9. 17)

- Hope completed a 27-minute burn of its main thrusters, slowing the spacecraft down enough to enter an initial “capture” orbit around Mars, at 10:57 a.m. Eastern, the MBRSC (Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center) announced. Signals from the spacecraft confirming a successful orbital insertion arrived 11 minutes later.

- The Mars orbit insertion (MOI) maneuver was designed to place the spacecraft into an orbit of 1,000 by 49,380 kilometers around Mars, but the center did not immediately confirm the spacecraft’s orbital parameters.

- “MOI was the most critical and dangerous part of our journey to Mars, exposing the Hope probe to stresses and pressures it has never before faced,” Omran Sharaf, project director for what’s formally known as the Emirates Mars Mission, said in a statement. “With this enormous milestone achieved, we are now preparing to transition to our science orbit and commence science data gathering.”


Figure 12: Hope fired its thrusters for 27 minutes to slow the spacecraft enough to enter orbit around Mars (image credit: MBRSC)

- The spacecraft will spend the next two months moving into its final science orbit at altitudes ranging from 20,000 to 43,000 km above the planet. The orbit is designed to allow the spacecraft’s instruments to capture full views of the planet’s atmosphere every nine days to support studies of Martian weather patterns as well as how gasses in the planet’s atmosphere escape to space.

- Hope is the UAE’s first mission beyond Earth orbit, and the UAE is only the fifth entity to successfully place a spacecraft into orbit around Mars, after the United States, former Soviet Union, European Space Agency and India. The mission was timed in part to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country later this year.

- “As a young nation, it is a particular point of pride that we are now in a position to make a tangible contribution to humanity’s understanding of Mars,” Sarah Al Amiri, UAE minister of state for advanced technology and chair of the UAE space agency, said in a statement. “This also marks an important point for the Emirates to continue the drive to diversify its economy utilizing science and technology.”

- The UAE worked closely with several universities in the United States on the mission, including the University of Colorado Boulder, University of California Berkeley and Arizona State University, including on the spacecraft itself as well as its suite of three instruments.

- “Hope will capture the ebbs and flows of weather on Mars to a degree that wasn’t possible before. It’s a showcase for how space exploration has become an increasingly international endeavor,” said Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, in a statement before Hope’s arrival at Mars.

- Hope, which launched July 19 on a Japanese H-2A rocket, is the first of three Mars missions launched last July arriving at Mars this month. China’s Tianwen-1 mission is scheduled to enter orbit around Mars Feb. 10, although the Chinese government has said little about the spacecraft’s upcoming arrival. The spacecraft will deploy a lander, carrying a rover, to touch down in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars in May.

- NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will arrive at Mars Feb. 18, landing the Perseverance rover in Jezero Crater. Perseverance will study the planet’s past habitability and cache samples for return to Earth by two NASA and ESA missions scheduled for launch no earlier than 2026.

• February 7, 2021: When Sarah al-Amiri was a child growing up in Abu Dhabi with a fascination for space, her young country seemed light years away from reaching for the stars. 18)

- Now the 34-year-old is a government minister and one of the drivers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambitious project behind the "Hope" probe that is due to reach the orbit of Mars on Tuesday.

- As a youngster poring over images of far-away galaxies, Amiri was enraptured by "the number of stars, solar systems, planets — objects that exist out there which numerically we can't comprehend".

- "But more importantly the ways by which scientists explore it — be it by telescopes, spacecrafts, radio images," she told AFP.

- At that time Abu Dhabi and its sister emirate Dubai were nothing like the metropolises, bristling with skyscrapers, that they are now.


Figure 13: Emirati Minister of State for Advanced Technology Sarah al-Amiri [image credit: Giuseppe Cacace, AFP (Agence France-Presse)]

- But after a high-speed development drive, the UAE sent its first astronaut into space in 2019 and last year launched the Hope mission to orbit Mars in order to unravel the secrets of the weather on the Red Planet.

- The first interplanetary mission for the Arab world, it is designed to inspire young people in the region and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs.

- Amiri is now chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency, after serving as deputy project manager of the Mars initiative — roles she never imagined despite her childhood passions.

Meteoric rise

- After graduating from high school in 2004, Amiri attended the American University of Sharjah, earning Bachelor's and Master's degrees in computer engineering — her other abiding interest.

- "It was a deep fascination into how these objects and computers worked. How they were built. How they were designed. How the hardware operates with the software."

- But it was not until she walked into an interview at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai in 2009 that she realized that space would be her destiny.

- "I completely fell on it by accident," she said, adding the space centre was looking for engineers so she applied for a job.

- Amiri's first job was to work on DubaiSat-1, the first Emirati Earth observation satellite, and she rapidly rose through the ranks.

- She was appointed minister of state for advanced technology in 2017, and became chairwoman of the Space Agency in August.

- Also last year, the BBC listed her as one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2020.

- Her meteoric rise, along with a clutch of other young Emirati ministers, is a reflection of a country with ambitious plans to become a hub for technology and science, to boost its soft power and diversify its economy away from oil.

'Monumental shifts'

- "My life as a person born in the 1980s is completely different from the lives of my parents who were born here in the '40s and '50s," said Amiri.

- She said her father's home was hooked to a power generator because they had electricity shortages and "the water they drank had rust in it, it was yellow in color. They had to filter it using pieces of cloth".

- "Yes, we (as Emiratis) do appreciate that organic growth comes, but we cannot survive as a nation by just relying on organic growth. There needs to be large, monumental shifts.

- "The Emirates Mars Mission has... inspired the nation to look to the future and look to the skies," Amiri said.

- "It has shown that collaboration across nations, geographies, creeds and in the face of remarkable challenges can forge brilliant outcomes for the benefit of us all."

- Amiri comes from a line of accomplished women, including doctors, accountants, teachers and bankers.

- "My mother is a college graduate. She was a teacher who was quite passionate about what she was doing," said Amiri, herself a mother of two, including an 11-year-old boy who is an avid "Star Wars" fan.

- Amiri said "there were no bounds" facing her in the UAE, a country where women are prominent at top levels of government and business.

Emirati 'Hope' probe approaches Mars

- Dubai (AFP) Feb 7, 2021: The first Arab interplanetary mission is expected to reach Mars' orbit Tuesday in what is considered the most critical part of the journey to unravel the secrets of weather on the Red Planet.

- The unmanned probe — named "Al-Amal", Arabic for "Hope" — blasted off from Japan last year, marking the next step in the United Arab Emirates' ambitious space program.

- Here are some facts and figures about the oil-rich nation's project, which draws inspiration from the Middle East's golden age of cultural and scientific achievements.

Outsize plans

- The UAE, made up of seven emirates including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, has 12 satellites in orbit, with plans to launch several more in coming years.

- In September 2019, it sent the first Emirati into space, Hazza al-Mansouri, who was part of a three-member crew. They blasted off from Kazakhstan, returning home after an eight-day mission in which he became the first Arab to visit the International Space Station.

- But the UAE's ambitions go much further, with a goal of building a human settlement on Mars by 2117.

- In the meantime, it plans to create a white-domed "Science City" in the deserts outside Dubai to simulate Martian conditions and develop the technology needed to colonize the planet.

- The UAE has plans to launch an unmanned rover to the moon by 2024 and is also eying future mining projects beyond Earth, as well as space tourism.

- It has signed a memorandum of understanding with Richard Branson's space tourism company Virgin Galactic and announced the creation of a "space court" to settle commercial disputes relating to space industries.

Hope's journey

- The "Hope" probe lifted off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on July 20, 2020.

- The 1,350 kg (2,970-pound) probe — about the size of an SUV — took seven months to travel the 493 million km (307 million miles) to Mars.

- Officials say that the "most critical and complex" maneuver will begin on Tuesday at 1530 GMT, to slow the spacecraft enough to be captured by the gravity of the Red Planet.

- The probe will for the first time fire all six of its Delta-V thrusters, for a duration of 27 minutes, to slow its cruising speed of 121,000 km/hr to about 18,000 km/hr.

- The process will consume half of the spacecraft's fuel, and it will take 11 minutes for a signal on its progress to reach Earth.

- If successful, one loop around the planet will take 40 hours.

- The "Hope" probe will remain in this phase for approximately two months, during which further testing will take place, until it is ready to enter the "science" orbit — when its data collection work begins.

Study and inspire

- Unlike the other two Mars ventures this year, the Tianwen-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, the UAE's probe will not land on the Red Planet.

- Three instruments mounted on the "Hope" probe will provide a picture of the Mars atmosphere throughout the Martian year — 687 days.

- The first is an infrared spectrometer to measure the lower atmosphere and analyze the temperature structure.

- The second is a high-resolution imager that will also provide information about ozone levels. And the third, an ultraviolet spectrometer, is to measure oxygen and hydrogen levels from a distance of up to 43,000 km from the surface.

- Studying the atmospheres of other planets will allow for a better understanding of the Earth's climate, officials say, and pave the way for scientific breakthroughs.

- But the project is also designed to inspire a region too often beset by turmoil, and recall its heyday of scientific advances during the Middle Ages.

- "The UAE wanted to send a strong message to the Arab youth and to remind them of the past, that we used to be generators of knowledge," Omran Sharaf, the mission's project manager, told AFP.

- The mission, if successful, would make the UAE the fifth nation to ever reach Mars, and is timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the country's unification.

• August 27, 2020: A major milestone was announced as the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, revealed its Mars Hope probe has completed a fifth of its journey to the Red Planet, journeying over 100 million kilometers since its successful launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on 19 July 2020. 19)

- Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission, commented, “We have accomplished our first trajectory correction maneuver, which was the first test of Mars Hope’s propulsion and trajectory control systems, as well as the first time the spacecraft’s six Delta-V thrusters have been activated. That 21-second burn put us firmly on track towards Mars. We’re delighted with the performance of Mars Hope so far.”

- Traveling at speed of some 121,000 km/h, the Mars Hope probe will perform a number of further TCMs (Trajectory Control Maneuvers) to reach its scheduled Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) in early February 2021. A critical time for the Mission, MOI will involve slowing the spacecraft to 18,000 km/h over a 30-minute period, during which its thrusters will burn almost half of the onboard reserve of Hydrazine fuel. If successful, this will place the Mars Hope probe in its Mars Capture Orbit before a period of instrument and systems testing, followed by a transition to its Science Orbit.

- The Emirates Mars Mission and the Hope probe are the culmination of a knowledge transfer and development effort started in 2006, which has seen Emirati engineers working with partners around the world to develop The Emirates’ spacecraft design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities part of a long-term integrated effort to create economic opportunity through leadership in space sciences, research and exploration. The probe was named Mars Hope as a symbol of hope for all young Arabs.

Sensor complement (EXI, EMUS, EMIRS)

The EMM Hope probe carries three scientific instruments mounted on one side of the spacecraft. The instruments will collect information about the Mars atmospheric circulation and connections through a combination of three distinct instruments that image Mars in the visible, thermal infrared, and ultraviolet wavelengths.

EXI (Emirates eXploration Imager)

EXI is a high resolution multiband (visible and UV) camera with the following spectral bands. 205-234 nm, 245-275 nm, 305-335 nm, 405-469 nm, 506-586 nm and 625-645 nm.

EXI, is a multi-band, camera capable of taking 12 megapixel images, which translates to a spatial resolution of better than 8 km with a well calibrated radiometric performance. EXI uses a selector wheel mechanism consisting of 6 discrete bandpass filters to sample the optical spectral region: 3 UV bands and 3 visible (RGB) bands. Atmospheric characterization will involve the retrieval of the ice optical depth using the 300-340 nm band, the dust optical depth in the 205-235 nm range, and the column abundance of ozone with a band covering 245-275 nm. Radiometric fidelity is optimized while simplifying the optical design by separating the UV and VIS optical paths. The instrument is being developed jointly by UC/LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics), UCB/SSL, and MBRSC (Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center), Dubai, UAE. 20)

EXI is a 12 Mpixel CMOS imager with re-closeable door and filter wheel.

• Filter band pass targets

- Blue: 437±5 nm CW, ≤20 nm FWHM

- Green: 546±5 nm CW, ≤20 nm FWHM

- Red: 635±5 nm CW, ≤20 nm FWHM

- UV1: 260±5 nm CW, ≤30 nm FWHM

- UV2: 320±5 nm CW, ≤30 nm FWHM


Figure 14: EXI instrument (image credit: LASP, MBRSC)




Focal Plane Format

12.6 MP 4:3 format 4096 x 3072 @5.5 µm



Dynamic range

12 bit, 13,500 e full well

Lens system

48 mm, f/3.6

51 mm, f/4.25

Field of View


25.8º x 19.2º

Pixel Angular View

23 arcsec per pixel

22 arcsec per pixel

Plate Scale

0.85 mm/º

0.9 mm/º

Distortion @ 9.35º



Ground coverage at apoapsis and priapsis

Full Disk

Ground resolution at apoapsis / priapsis

4.9 / 2.3 km per pixel

4.6 / 2.2 km per pixel

Filter Spectral Bands

UV1: 245-275 nm, UV2: 305-335 nm

Blue: 427-447 nm, Green: 536-556 nm,
Red: 625-645 nm

Table 1: EXI instrument specifications

Science product

Spatial resolution

Image wavelengths

Dust Column integrated optical Depth

≤10 km

635 nm

Water Ice cloud Column integrated optical depth

≤10 km

320 nm

Ozone Column integrated abundance

≤10 km

260 nm

Color images of Mars

≤10 km

437, 546, and 635 nm

Table 2: Science targets

EMUS (Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer)

The instrument is a far-UV imaging spectrograph. The spectral range is 100-170 nm. The developers of EMUS are LASP and MBRSC.

Instrument description

• Far ultraviolet imaging spectrograph that will characterize the escape of hydrogen and oxygen from Mars and the state of the Mars Thermosphere.

• It consists of a single telescope mirror feeding a Rowland circle imaging spectrograph with a photon counting and locating detector.

• The EMUS spatial resolution of less than 300 km on the disk is sufficient to characterize spatial variability in the Martian thermosphere (100-200 km altitude) and exosphere (>200 km altitude).


Figure 15: Illustration of the EMUS instrument (image credit: LASP, MBRSC)

FOV (Field of View)

(0.18º, 0.25º, 0.7º) x 11.0º

Wavelength range

100 - 170 nm

Spectral resolution

1.3, 1.8, 5 nm

Spatial resolution with narrow slit

0.14º x 0.20º

Detector photocathode


Table 3: EMUS instrument specification


Figure 16: Science targets (image credit: LASP, MBRSC)

EMIRS (Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer)

EMIRS is an FTS (Fourier Transform Spectrometer) instrument in the infrared region of 6-40 µm. The developers of EMIRS are ASU and MBRSC.

EMIRS is the 5th generation ASU built FTIR spectrometer with OTES, Mini-TES (2x), MGS-TES and MO-TES heritage (Ref. 12).

• Simple, FTIR spectrometer w/ pointing mirror

• Acquires interferograms every 4 seconds

• Space and internal blackbody provide 1.5% absolute calibration

• Electronics compress and packetize science and housekeeping data


Measurement Required

Science Need

Instrument FOV (Field of View)

6 mrad

Relative radiance of dust absorption bands

To characterize dust.

Spectral resolution

5 cm-1 or 10 cm-1

Relative radiance of ice absorption bands

To characterize water ice clouds.

Spectral range

6-40+ µm

Spatial resolution

<300 km resolution

Relative radiance of H2O vapor absorption

To track the Martian water cycle

Observation capability

Observe ½ of Mars within ½ hour of
observing ~60 observations per week (~20/orbit)

Absolute radiance of CO2 absorption band

Track the thermal state of the
Martian atmosphere

Radiance at 1300 cm-1

Boundary condition for the lower atmosphere.

Table 4: EMIRS instrument parameters


Figure 17: Illustration of the EMIRS instrument (image credit: ASU, MBRSC)


Figure 18: Instrument locations on the observatory (image credit: LASP, MBRSC)

Ground segment

The EMM project is responsible for developing complete ground segment capabilities in support of mission development and operations. The EMM ground segment is composed of the ground network and its ground stations, navigation system, operations centers, mission design, SDCs (Science Data Centers), and ITFs (Instrument Team Facilities).

The MOC (Mission Operations Center) and SDC are located at MBRSC and the MSF (Mission Support Facility) is located at LASP to serve as a redundant operations capability. The navigation team provides determined ephemeris, predicted ephemeris, and burn solutions to maintain the orbit or trajectory. The ITF for each instrument is responsible for instrument builds and tests, as well as building a repository of engineering information supporting each instrument.

In summary, EMM will explore the dynamics in the atmosphere of Mars on a global scale while sampling contemporaneously both diurnal and seasonal timescales. Using three science instruments on an orbiting spacecraft, EMM will provide a set of measurements fundamental to an improved understanding of circulation and weather in the Martian lower and middle atmosphere. Combining such data with the monitoring of the upper layers of the atmosphere, EMM measurements will reveal the mechanisms behind the upward transport of energy and particles and the subsequent escape of atmospheric constituents from the atmosphere of Mars. The unique combination of instruments and the temporal and spatial coverage of Mars’ different atmospheric layers will open a new and much-needed window into the workings of the atmosphere of our planetary neighbor.


Figure 19: Ground segment (image credit: MBRSC, LASP)

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2) ”HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid unveils mission plan for the first Arab space probe to Mars,” 6 May2015, URL:

3) ”Emirates Mars Mission,” MBRSC, URL:

4) O. Sharaf, S. Amiri, S. AlDhafri, A. AlRais, M. Wali, Z. AlShamsi, I. AlQasim, K. AlHarmoodi, N. AlTeneiji, H. Almatroushi, M. AlShamsi, E. AlTeneiji, F. Lootah,K. Badri, H. AlMazmi, M. Yousuf,N. AlMheiri,M. McGrath,P. Withnell,N. Ferrington, H. Reed, B. Landin, S. Ryan, B. Pramann, D. Brain, J. Deighan, M. Chaffin, C. Edwards, F. Forget, R. Lillis, M. Smith, M. Wolff, ”Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) 2020 Overview and Status,” The Ninth International Conference on Mars, Pasadena, CA, USA, 22-25 July 2019, URL:

5) ”Emirates Mars Mission (Hope),” NASA, 17 April 2020, URL:

6) Dana Moukhallati, ”First Arab mission to Mars designed to inspire youth,” Mars Daily, 9 June 2020, URL:

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8) Omran Sharaf, Sarah Amiri, Suhail AlMheiri, Adnan Alrais, Mohammad Wali, Zakareyya AlShamsi, Ibrahim AlQasim, Khuloud AlHarmoodi, Nour AlTeneiji , Hessa Almatroushi, Maryam AlShamsi, Mohsen AlAwadhi , Michael McGrath, Pete Withnell, Nicolas Ferrington,Heather Reed, Brett Landin, Sean Ryan, and Brian Pramann, ”Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) Overview,” 19th EGU General Assembly, EGU 2017, Proceedings from the conference held 23-28 April, 2017 in Vienna, Austria, Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 19, EGU2017-14198, 2017, URL:

9) ”MHI Receives New Order for H-IIA Launch Services for UAE Emirates Mars Mission,” MHI Press Release, 22 March 2016, URL:

10) ”First Arab space mission to Mars launches from Japan,” Mars Daily, 19 July 2020, URL:

11) Tyler Gray, ”UAE-built Mars orbiter arrives at launch site ahead of July liftoff,” NASA, 26 April 2020, URL:

12) ”Emirates Hope Mars Mission (EMM) Science Overview,” Presented by Sarah Amirion behalf of the EMM Team, July 2019, URL:

13) ”Emirates Mars Mission Hope Probe commences transitions to science orbit,” Emirates News Agency, 29 March 2021, URL:

14) Michael Buckley, ”Johns Hopkins APL Technology Helps Mars Mission Phone Home,” JHU/APL, 18 March 2021, URL:

15) ”Hope Probe captures new images of Mars with the Emirates Ultraviolet Spectrometer,” LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics), 9 March 2021, URL:

16) ”UAE's 'Hope' probe sends home first image of Mars,” Mars Daily, 14 February 2021, URL:

17) Jeff Foust, ”Hope enters orbit around Mars,” SpaceNews, 9 February 2021, URL:

18) Dana Moukhallati, ”Sarah al-Amiri: young minister behind UAE mission to Mars,” Mars Daily, 7 February 2021, URL:

19) ”UAE’s Hope Probe Celebrates First 100 Million Kilometers on Way to Mars,” Satnews, 27 August 2020, URL:

20) Mariam AlShamsi,Andrew Jones,Michael Wolff,Suhail AlDhafri, Heather Reed,Ginger Drake, Mikki Osterloo, Mohammad Khoory, ”Scientific Payload of the Emirates Mars Mission: Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) Overview,” 42nd COSPAR Scientific Assembly. Held 14-22 July 2018, in Pasadena, California, USA

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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