TOKYO : The first Arab Space Mission to Mars, an unmanned probe dubbed ''Hope'' blasted from Japan on Monday on a mission to reveal more about the atmosphere of the Red Planet.

The Japanese rocket carrying the probe developed the United Arab Emirates [UAE] lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Southern Japan right on schedule at 6:58 am local time [2158 GMT Sunday].

The launch of the probe, known as ''Al-Amal'' in Arabic, had twice been delayed because of bad weather, but the Monday liftoff appeared smooth and successful.

An hour later, a live feed showed people applauding in the Japanese control room as the probe successfully detached.

In Dubai, the launch was met with rapturous excitement and blanket media coverage, with the Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest skyscraper - lit up hours before liftoff with a symbolic 10-second countdown in anticipation.

''We proudly announce the successful launch of the Hope probe,'' Dubai's ruler Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid AI-Maktoum said in a tweet.

''The ground control station in Dubai has received the first signal from the probe after its solar panels were successfully deployed to charge its batteries. Our 493 million km journey to the Red Planet starts here.

Aby Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed AI-Nahyan said the country watched the launch with ''pride and joy'' as the nation embarked on a ''new chapter in space''.

Only the United States, India, the former Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency have successfully sent missions to orbit the fourth planet from the sun, while China is preparing to launch its first Mars rover later this month.

The Emirati project is one of three racing to Mars, including Tianwein-1 from China and Mars 2020 from the United States, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.

In October, Mars will be a comparatively close 38.6 million miles [62.07 million kilometers] from Earth, according to NASA.

''HOPE'' is expected to enter Mars orbit by February 2021, marking the year of the 50th anniversary of the unification of UAE, an alliance of seven emirates.

Unlike the two other Mars ventures scheduled for this year, it will not land on the Red Planet, but instead orbit it for a whole Martian year, or 687 days. [AFP]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!