By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 15th July, 2020 (WAM) — The UAE’s Hope Probe will be able to give crucial inputs to India’s next Mars mission and open up new avenues of cooperation between both nations, a top scientist at Indian Space Research Organisation told Emirates News Agency, WAM.
“Data from Hope Probe on transport of dust and its large-scale movements on Mars and results on the loss of volatiles from Mars, will be an important input as India finalises its plans for the next Indian mission to Mars,” said R. Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary at ISRO.
“Joint research programmes linked to these studies would be a new avenue for bilateral cooperation,” he added.
India was the first Asian country and the fourth one globally to join the exclusive club of nations that have reached Mars alongside the US, Russia and the European Space Agency. With its indigenously made unmanned spacecraft, India became the first nation in the world to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt in 2014.
Umamaheswaran made these comments as the UAE is preparing to launch the Hope Probe from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre during a three-week long window ending 3rd August. Weather conditions caused a delay to the scheduled launch twice – 14th and 17th July.
The first interplanetary mission from the Arab World will travel 493.5 million km over seven months to reach Mars’ orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations to mark the historic union of the Emirates.
The ISRO scientist continued to say that “it is a major achievement for UAE to accomplish this challenging task of sending a mission to Mars.”
“The global coverage this mission provides will complement very well the high-resolution but restricted field-of-view studies carried out by the other contemporary Mars missions [including that of India],” Umamaheswaran pointed out.
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, MOM, though a technology demonstrator, carried a camera to provide a synoptic view of Mars in the optical band, he said.
Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, were also pictured from close distances by Mars Colour Camera on the MOM, which is the only Martian artificial satellite that could image the full disc of Mars in one view frame and also image the far side of Deimos.
“This will be very well complemented by new images from the Hope Probe to cover various seasons and dust devil monitoring,” the ISRO scientist said.
The Hope Probe will have the first holistic view of the Martian atmosphere at different times of the day and various seasons, and global scientific community will get such a data for the first time, Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission, told WAM on 11th July.
The Indian scientist lauded this advanced project. “ISRO congratulates the UAE for undertaking this major mission as part of its rapidly advancing space programme,” said Umamaheswaran who has made significant contribution to ISRO’s three launch vehicles such as Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles, GSLV and GSLV-MkIII.
MOM, the maiden interplanetary mission of ISRO, launched by India’s third generation launch vehicle PSLV-C25 on 5th November 2013, got inserted into Martian orbit on 24th September 2014 in its first attempt.
The mission named Mangalyaan, which was initially meant to last six months, has completed five years of orbiting Mars on 24th September 2019 and is likely to continue for some more time, according to ISRO.
The Mars orbiter has sent thousands of pictures of the planet and this has helped ISRO prepare a Martian Atlas.
MOM is built with full autonomy to take care of itself for long periods without any ground intervention. The mission is credited with many laurels for its cost-effectiveness, short period of realisation, economical mass-budget and miniaturisation of five heterogeneous science payloads.
Likewise, the US$200 million worth Hope Probe is considered among the cheapest in the world, compared to similar programmes, according to Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.
“We wish you the very best in this endeavour and look forward to working with you in future space exploration activities,” Umamaheswaran said.