I had the chance to follow the United Arab Emirate (UAE)’s Hope mission to Mars on YouTube and Twitter. I followed the YouTube stream of Dubai One. On Twitter, I followed the official Twitter account of Hope and Sarwat Nasir, a journalist with The National, a UAE based newspaper.
The Hope (Al-Amal) was designed, developed and controlled from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai, UAE. It was built by MBRSC with 3 universities in the United States of America (USA), University of Colorado, Boulder, University of California, Berkely and Arizona State University. It was launched on 19 July, 2020 on Japan’s H-IIA launch vehicle. The UAE hopes to setup a human settlement on Mars by 2117.
The UAE went all in with the promotion of the mission.
"You've arrived in the Emirates. The Emirates is arriving at Mars."#UAEMarsMission: #UAE airline passengers to get 'Martian ink' passport stamp on arrival https://t.co/p2GaDpf4nF pic.twitter.com/3DenFB5OVA— The National (@TheNationalNews) February 10, 2021
Besides these promotions, they did a good job with a light show on the Burj Khalifa in the run up to the Mars Orbit Insertion. My favourite part of the show was the slice of Mars shown on the Burj. The light show showed the Emirati scientists involved in the program. They spoke to some of the personnel that worked on the mission. News was shared that more than 37% of their personnel were women. The average age of the personnel was 27.
Emirati engineers are nervous but excited as #HopeProbe attempts to enter Mars’ orbit in less than an hour. Here is Hessa Al Matrooshi, mission’s science lead #ArabstoMars @TheNationalNews pic.twitter.com/A430BbX2k1— Sarwat Nasir (@SarwatNasir) February 9, 2021
The first acquisition of signal was at the Deep Space Network at Madrid. As we waited for Hope to emerge from behind Mars, the tension that scientists faced was similar to the tension that would have been faced at any space center anywhere in the world. On display, was a very basic human emotion. Waiting for the results of a mission that one has worked so hard on.
With the mission success, UAE became the 5th country or country group at Mars along with the United States of America, Europe, Russia and India.