UAE Hope probe reaches Mars orbit ahead of China and US missions

CATHERINE THORBECKE
·2 min read

Earth's invasion of Mars has officially kicked off as the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe entered the red planet's orbit Tuesday.

China's Tianwen-1 mission is not far behind, expected to enter Mars' orbit on Wednesday. The U.S., meanwhile, is set to land NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars next week.

PHOTO: A handout illustration made available by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center depicts the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars orbit on Feb. 9, 2021. (MBRSC/UAE Space Agency/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: A handout illustration made available by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center depicts the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars orbit on Feb. 9, 2021. (MBRSC/UAE Space Agency/EPA via Shutterstock)

All three nations launched their separate Mars missions within days of each other this past summer, initiating an international deep space race to explore Earth's neighboring planet.

MORE: Corporate space flight lifts off in 2020: The major missions over the past year

The UAE mission, dubbed the Hope probe, entered Mars' orbit just before 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday following a journey of more than 300 million miles. The probe launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center on July 19.

PHOTO: People watch a screen displaying information of the Hope Probe entering the orbit of Mars, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 9, 2021. (Christopher Pike/Reuters)
PHOTO: People watch a screen displaying information of the Hope Probe entering the orbit of Mars, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 9, 2021. (Christopher Pike/Reuters)

While China and the U.S. are planning to land on Mars itself, the UAE mission is just an orbiter that will study the Martian atmosphere and climate. Its first set of data is set to be released in September and made available to the global scientific community.

MORE: What to know about China, UAE and US missions to Mars this summer

Hessa Al Matroushi, the science lead for the mission, said in a statement that Hope's orbital path around Mars "offers an unprecedented local and seasonal time coverage of the Martian atmosphere."

PHOTO: An Emirati celebrates as he watches a big screen board displaying the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars orbit at Burj Plaza, in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 9, 2021. (Ali Haider/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: An Emirati celebrates as he watches a big screen board displaying the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars orbit at Burj Plaza, in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 9, 2021. (Ali Haider/EPA via Shutterstock)

"Combined with the unique instrumental synergy, Hope will explore Mars' different atmospheric layers, revealing new and global perspective of its atmospheric behavior and connections," Al Matroushi added.

MORE: NASA's Mars Perseverance completes successful launch, will look for signs of 'ancient life'

The UAE erupted with pride as it became only the fifth nation to successfully reach Mars' orbit on Tuesday. Major public monuments and landmarks in the Arab nation were illuminated with red lights over the past few days in honor of the mission.

PHOTO: Dubai's Burj Khalifa is lit up in the shape of a space rocket on Feb. 9, 2021, as the UAE's Al-Amal probe successfully entered Mars' orbit, making history as the Arab world's first interplanetary mission. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Dubai's Burj Khalifa is lit up in the shape of a space rocket on Feb. 9, 2021, as the UAE's Al-Amal probe successfully entered Mars' orbit, making history as the Arab world's first interplanetary mission. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

"As a young nation, it is a particular point of pride that we are now in a position to make a tangible contribution to humanity’s understanding of Mars," Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, UAE's minister of state for advanced sciences and chair of the UAE Space Agency, said in a statement. "This also marks an important point for the Emirates to continue the drive to diversity its economy utilizing science and technology."

UAE Hope probe reaches Mars orbit ahead of China and US missions originally appeared on abcnews.go.com