The last week has been fantastic for space nerds like ourselves with the arrival of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope probe and China’s Tianwen-1 in Martian orbit in recent days. While last week was exciting, the latest explorations and observations of Mars are only just getting started.
Both missions have different objectives, in the case of Hope its primary function is a tool with which to study the Martian atmosphere.
The probe contains three scientific instruments namely an infrared spectrometer, an imager for high resolution photos and an ultraviolet spectrometer. These tools will be able to capture the entirety of Mars once every nine days.
The hope is that together, these three instruments can provide the most complete picture of the Martian atmosphere yet. One of the key factors highlighted on Hope’s mission website is the study of how the upper atmosphere affects the lower atmosphere.
It’s said that oxygen and hydrogen escape the Martian atmosphere and Hope wants to paint a clearer picture of why that is.
But before that, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan gave the world a bit of a treat at the weekend with Hope’s first photo of Mars.
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. We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity. pic.twitter.com/TCM5yHTapH
— محمد بن زايد (@MohamedBinZayed) February 14, 2021
Sure, we’ve seen photos of Mars before, but seeing a fresh photo taken by machinery built by humans and sent 200 million kilometres back to Earth, is impressive anyway you slice it.
If you want to keep up with Hope’s mission we highly recommend checking out the official website for updates as and when they are made available.
Not seen in that picture (or perhaps it is, this is rather far out) is Tianwen-1, China’s Martian mission which also arrived in orbit last week. The Chinese craft will orbit the planet before landing on its surface.
But currently hurtling to Mars at close on 40 000 kmph is NASA’s Perseverance Rover which is scheduled to touchdown on Mars on 18th February.
To understand what NASA hopes to accomplish on Mars this time around, we highly recommend YouTuber and former NASA engineer, Mark Rober’s video which also features the landing of Curiosity.
In short, NASA hopes to land on what is believed to be an ancient lake in hopes of finding signs of life on Mars.
It really is a good month to be a space nerd.