A look at the Mission’s fascinating numbers
Emirate Mars Mission is the anchor project of the UAE’s space industry. Space technology is an important pursuit for many countries around the world, as evidenced by the massive national programmes and institutions that support the study of space. The industry is estimated to be worth around $300 billion globally and growing by around 8% annually.
The rocket carrying the Hope spacecraft must blast off on July 2020 during a brief window, where Earth and Mars are aligned at their closest point. This occurs only once every two years.
This is the weight of the Hope spacecraft that will travel to Mars. It is a compact, hexagonal-section spacecraft built from aluminium in a stiff but lightweight honeycomb structure. Its size and weight is comparable to a small car.
This is the launch speed of the rocket carrying Hope in order to break free from Earth’s gravity.
The journey to Mars, approximately 600 million kilometres away, will take around 200 days travelling at a cruising speed of 126,000 km/hour.
Once in space, Hope will be powered using three 600W solar panels. The power generated from the panels can power about 20 laptop computers. These solar panels will be folded flat on launch and will unfold once the spacecraft is in orbit.
Hope will be powered by four to six Delta V 120-Newton thrusters for acceleration and braking. A Newton is a unit of measurement equivalent to the force required to accelerate a one kilogram object by one meter per second. For comparison it takes 45,000 newtons to push a car. Because there’s no gravity in space, it takes much less force to move an object like the spacecraft.
Hope will communicate with Earth using a 1.5m antenna at a speed of 250 kilobytes per second. The maximum rate is 1.6 megabytes per second but as the spacecraft journeys deeper into space the communication speed will go down. This will cause a 13-20 minute communication delay between Hope and Earth, which is why Hope cannot be controlled in real-time. Instead it will have an advanced onboard computer that can manoeuvre it into Mars orbit autonomously.
The scientific mission is expected to transmit 1000 gigabytes of new data over a two year period. This data will include new information about Martian weather, its atmosphere and the different level and changes that occur throughout the day and between seasons. This information will be received in the Science Data Center in the UAE where it will be catalogued, analysed then shared with the international Mars science community
The Emirates Mars Mission uses an unmanned spacecraft. But on Earth, hundreds of people will be involved including 75 Emiratis, which is expected to eventually increase to 150. Aside from the Emiratis, there will be around 200 personnel involved from US partner institutions. The initial 75 nationals will build the core capabilities by working with universities and research institutes to collaborate on developing the mission’s science and analyzing mission findings and data.