BBC UAE Hope mission returns first image of Mars

14 Feb 2021
88 times

The United Arab Emirates' Hope mission has returned its first picture of Mars.

The spacecraft entered into an orbit around the Red Planet on Tuesday, making the UAE the first Arab nation in history to have a scientific presence at Earth's near neighbour.

This first image will be followed by many similar such views of Mars.


Hope was put in a wide orbit so it could study the planet's weather and climate systems, which means it also will see the planet's full disk.

It's a type of view that's familiar fare from Earth-based telescopes, but less so from satellites actually positioned at Mars.

They traditionally have been kept close in to the planet so they can get high-resolution pictures of the surface and act as telecommunications relay stations for landed robots in contact with Earth.


The picture at the top of this page was captured by Hope's EXI instrument from an altitude of 24,700 km (15,350 miles) above the Martian surface at 20:36 GMT on Wednesday - so one day after arriving at the Red Planet.

The north pole of Mars is in the upper left of the image. At centre, just emerging into the early morning sunlight, is Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the Solar System. Look right on the boundary between night and day, the so-called terminator.

The three shield volcanoes in a line are Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons, and Arisia Mons. Look east, to the limb of the planet, and you can see the mighty canyon system, Valles Marineris. It's part covered by cloud.

"The transmission of the Hope Probe's first image of Mars is a defining moment in our history and marks the UAE joining advanced nations involved in space exploration," the mission's twitter account stated. "We hope this mission will lead to new discoveries about Mars which will benefit humanity."

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