In a daring, high-speed swan dive from space, the first interplanetary probe from an Arab nation successfully entered orbit around Mars on Tuesday, a
In a daring, high-speed swan dive from space, the first interplanetary probe from an Arab nation successfully entered orbit around Mars on Tuesday, a feat to be followed closely in coming days by ambitious missions to the red planet from the U.S. and China.
The United Arab Emirates’ 1.5-ton, SUV-size satellite, called al-Amal, or Hope, entered a stable orbit around Mars at about 10:42 a.m. Eastern time, mission officials said.
“The operation went exactly as planned to the dot,” said Sarah al-Amiri, Emirati minister of state for advanced sciences and chair of the U.A.E. Space Agency. “We got all the right feedback from the spacecraft to signal Mars orbital insertion. It’s been a roller coaster journey. Relief is the word that comes to mind. And extreme happiness.”
The Hope orbiter carries three sensors designed to make the first comprehensive weather observations across the planet’s surface. The $200 million mission is the keystone of a national effort to make science and technology mainstays of the small Gulf state’s economy in anticipation of a day when its oil revenues dwindle, U.A.E. officials said.
“It’s about stimulating a lot of change within the U.A.E.’s economy that today more than ever should have a solid foundation in science,” Ms. Amiri said in advance of the orbit insertion. “The best way to do that, from what we have been experimenting with as a nation, has been an exploration mission to space.”