Minimize EMM Hope

EMM (Emirates Mars Mission) Hope / Al-Amal

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EMM 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 EMM - 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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)

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Figure 5: 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.

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Figure 6: 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.

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Figure 7: EMM mission timeline (image credit: MBRSC, NASA) 12)

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. 13)

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

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Figure 8: 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).

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Figure 9: 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

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Figure 10: 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

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Figure 11: Illustration of the EMIRS instrument (image credit: ASU, MBRSC)

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Figure 12: 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.

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Figure 13: Ground segment (image credit: MBRSC, LASP)

1) ”Hope Mars Mission,” Wikipedia, URL:

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:

7) ”Emirates Mars Mission: Hope Probe Ready for Launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center,” AETOSWire, 29 April 2020, URL:

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) 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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