The Emirates Mars Mission or Hope Mars Mission (Arabic: مسبار الأمل) is a space exploration program to Mars, set to be launched by the United Arab Emirates. Upon launch, it will become the first-ever mission to The Red Planet by any Arab or Muslim country. The mission was announced by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates, in July 2014, and is aimed at enriching the capabilities of Emirati engineers and increasing human knowledge about the Martian atmosphere. The mission is being carried out by a team composed solely of Emirati engineers, and is a contribution towards a knowledge-based economy in the UAE.
Under the Emirates Mars Mission, the United Arab Emirates will send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2020. The probe has been named as ‘Hope Probe’ or ‘Al-Amal’ and it is scheduled to reach Mars in 2021, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates’ formation.
To accomplish the objectives of the Emirates Mars Mission, an agreement was signed between the UAE Space Agency and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), under a directive given by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the President & the Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. As per the agreement, the Emirates Mars Mission will be funded by the UAE Space Agency and it will also supervise the complete execution process for the Hope Probe. The agreement outlines the financial and legal framework along with assigning a timeline for the entire project.
Under the agreement, MBRSC has been commissioned for the designing, manufacturing and launch of the Hope Probe. A team of more than 150 Emirati engineers at MBRSC are currently working on the probe and other areas of the Emirates Mars Mission.
The scientific objectives for the Emirates Mars Mission, as agreed upon by the Global Mars Science Community, are aimed at providing a true picture of the Martian atmosphere for the first time in the history of Mars exploration.
The Hope Probe will study the atmospheric layers of the Red Planet in detail and will provide data to study: the reason for a drastic climatic change in the Martian atmosphere from the time it could sustain liquid water to today, when the atmosphere is so thin that water can only exist as ice or vapour,  to understand how and why Mars is losing its hydrogen and oxygen into space, and the connection between the upper and lower levels of the Martian atmosphere. Data from the Hope Probe will also help to model the Earth’s atmosphere and study its evolution over millions of years.
All data gained from the mission will be made available to 200 universities and research institutes across the globe for the purpose of knowledge sharing.
The United Arab Emirates leadership regards the Emirates Mars Mission as an investment in UAE's economy and human capital. H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum attached three important messages with the mission when he announcing it: “The first message is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge, and will play that role again; the second message is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible, and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge and the third message is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions, and you can reach even to space.”
The unmanned probe to be sent to Mars under the Emirates Mars Mission has been named as ‘Hope Probe’ or ‘Al-Amal’ in Arabic (Arabic: مسبار الأمل), as it sends out a message of optimism to millions of Arabs across the globe and encourages them towards innovation. In April 2015, H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid invited the Arab world to name the probe. The name was selected after receiving thousands of suggestions, as it describes the core objective of the mission. The name of the probe was announced in May 2015 and since then the mission is sometimes referred to as the ‘Hope Mars Mission’.
The Hope Probe will be hexagonal in shape, built from aluminium in a stiff yet lightweight honeycomb structure with a composite face-sheet. With an approximate weight of 1500 kg including the fuel, the overall size and dimensions of the probe will be comparable to a small car.Dimensions: The probe will be 2.37m wide and 2.90m in length
Weight: Approximate weight of the probe will be 1500 kg
Power Source: The craft will charge its batteries using 600-watt solar panels. The solar panel arrays will be folded at the time of the launch and they’ll unfold once the probe is in orbit
For the purpose of communication, a high-gain antenna with a 1.5m wide dish will be used by the probe. This antenna will produce a narrow radio-wave that must point towards the Eart
h in the right direction for perfect communication. There will also be low-gain antennas in the structure of the probe that will be less directional as compared to the high-gain antenna.
The probe will also have star trackers to help it determine its position in space by studying the constellations in relation to the sun.
It will be equipped with two sets of rocket thrusters, which include four to six large ‘Delta V’ thrusters and eight to 12 small Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters. The function of the ‘Delta V’ thrusters will be speed management, slowing down the probe or speeding it up as per requirements, while the RCS thrusters will be used for delicate manoeuvring.
The ‘reaction wheels’ within the probe will allow it to reorient itself while travelling through the space, helping it point its antenna towards Earth or point any scientific instrument towards Mars.
To achieve the scientific objectives of the Emirates Mars Mission, the Hope Probe will be equipped with three scientific instruments. They will work in a systematic manner to make different scientific processes occur effectively.Emirates eXploration imager (EXI): Measures properties of water, ice, dust, aerosols and abundance of ozone in Mars’ atmosphere.
Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS): Measures global characteristics & variability of thermosphere and hydrogen & oxygen coronae.
Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS): Examines temperature patterns, ice, water vapour and dust in the atmosphere.
The Emirates Mars Mission probe is set to arrive at Mars in 2021. In order to achieve this, the rocket must blast off during a brief launch window in July 2020 from the Earth. This is important because the Earth and Mars will be aligned at the closest in their orbits around the Sun. This alignment occurs every two years, therefore if this launch time is missed the Emirates Mars Mission will have to wait for the next alignment of Earth and Mars.
The team of the Emirates Mars Mission is divided into seven groups including Spacecraft, Logistics, Mission Operations, Project Management, Science Education & Outreach, Ground Station and Launch Vehicle. The team is headed by Omran Sharaf, who acts as the Project Manager and is responsible for managing and supporting the ongoing tasks related to the Emirates Mars Mission.
Sarah Amiri is the Deputy Project Manager & the Lead Science Investigator, who leads the team in developing the Emirates Mars Mission’s objectives and aligning programmes related to instrumentation of the Hope Probe. The Emirates Mars Mission is being carried out solely by Emirati engineers and scientists, and this has been referred to as having the potential to make a long-lasting contribution to the economy of the United Arab Emirates.