World news – Arab spaceships approach Mars on a historic flight

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February 9, 2021

by Isabel Debre

A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates was scheduled to go into orbit around Mars on Tuesday’s first interplanetary mission in the Arab world. This was the first of three robotic researchers to arrive on the red planet in the next week and a half.

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The orbiter called Amal, Arabic for hope, traveled 300 million miles to Mars in nearly seven months to map its atmosphere during each season.

A combination of orbiter and lander from China is close behind and is said to be on Reach the planet Wednesday. It will orbit Mars until the rover separates and attempts to land on the surface in May looking for signs of old life.

A rover from the US called the Perseverance will be joining the crowd next week and aim for a landing on February 18. It will be the first stage in a decade-long US-European project to bring Martian rocks back to Earth for investigation. Evidence that the planet once housed microscopic life.

About 60% of all Mars missions failed, crashed, burned down or stayed behind in some other way. This is proof of the complexity of interplanetary travel and the difficulty of descending through the thin Martian atmosphere.

If this succeeds, China will only be the second country to successfully land on Mars. The US did it eight times, the first time nearly 45 years ago. A NASA rover and lander are still working on the surface.

For the UAE, it was the country’s first out of orbit operation, making the flight a matter of intense national pride.

Landmarks shone in for days the United Arab Emirates, including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower on earth, red to mark Amal’s expected arrival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country and Amal is receiving even more attention.

The celestial weather station was aiming for an exceptionally high Mars orbit of 22,000 x 44,000 kilometers. It was to join six starships already operating around Mars: three U.S., two European, and one Indian.

Amal was expected to perform an intricate series of high-stakes turns and power shots to get in Maneuver orbit and achieve what so far has missed.

« Anything that easily goes wrong and you lose the spacecraft, » said Sarah al-Amiri, state minister for advanced technology and chairman of the UAE space agency .

Success would be a huge boost to the UAE’s space ambitions. The country’s first astronaut shot into space in 2019 and drove with the Russians to the International Space Station. That is 58 years after the astronauts’ launch by the Soviet Union and the US.

When developing Amal, the UAE chose to work with more experienced partners instead of going alone or buying the spaceship elsewhere. The engineers and scientists worked with researchers from the University of Colorado, the University of California at Berkeley, and Arizona State University.

The spacecraft was assembled in Boulder, Colorado before it was sent to Japan for launch last July was.

All three spaceships on the way to the red planet took off within a few days and took advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars – their short arrival times.

The construction and introduction of the Amal in wagon size cost 200 Million dollars. that excludes operating costs on Mars. The Chinese and US expeditions are considerably more complicated – and more expensive – because of their rovers. NASA’s Perseverance mission is valued at $ 3 billion.

The UAE, a federation of seven Skeikhdoms, are looking for Amal to fuel the imagination of the country’s scientists and youth and prepare for a future when the oil runs out.

« This mission was never just about reaching Mars, » said Omran Sharaf, Amal’s project manager. « Mars is just a means to a much greater end. »

© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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