The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe is on its way to Mars after having launched from Japan on July 19 and has finally spotted the Red Planet for the first time. To celebrate this momentous occasion the probe sent back some pics.
The images showcase the Red Planet as a tiny dot visible by Hope. According to a statement from the program acquired by Space.com, the spacecraft is one-fifth of its way to Mars.
"The Hope probe is officially 100 million km (60 million miles) into its journey to the Red Planet," Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the UAE wrote in a Tweet on Monday.
"Mars, as demonstrated in the image captured by the probe's star tracker, is ahead of us, leaving Saturn and Jupiter behind. The Hope probe is expected to arrive at Mars in February 2021."
The probe, if successful, will study Mars' climate, giving a comprehensive view of the planet's weather system. Of course, anything can happen in a space mission so the world waits impatiently to see how this journey unfolds.
In order for Hope to reach Mars, the spacecraft will have to perform about six trajectory correction maneuvers. It already undertook one of these earlier this month.
"We have accomplished our first trajectory correction maneuver, which was the first test of Mars Hope's propulsion and trajectory control systems, as well as the first time the spacecraft's six Delta-V thrusters have been activated," Omran Sharaf, project director for the mission, said in a statement.
"That 21-second burn put us firmly on track toward Mars. We're delighted with the performance of Mars Hope so far."
The Mars orbiter was developed by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in Dubai, UAE, in partnership with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Once it reaches the Red Planet it will stay there for about one Martian year, equivalent to two Earth years.