Dubai ground station to take control of Mars probe after liftoff

The ground control team will monitor Hope and take control of the probe - right from the moment it separates from its rocket

  
The probe is anticipated to enter the Mars orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE's Golden Jubilee celebrations to mark the historic union of the Emirates. Image Courtesy: WAM

The probe is anticipated to enter the Mars orbit in February 2021, coinciding with the UAE's Golden Jubilee celebrations to mark the historic union of the Emirates. Image Courtesy: WAM

As the UAE braces for Hope probe's historic liftoff on Wednesday, a team of Emirati engineers and experts at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai is getting ready for a crucial task: To guide the spacecraft towards the Red Planet and maintain its contact with Earth.

Working from the space centre in the emirate's Al Khawaneej, the ground control team will monitor Hope and take control of the probe - right from the moment it separates from its rocket at 1.51am (an hour after its launch) until it reaches the Martian orbit.

In the first 30 days, they will be doing round-the-clock shifts to record every data the probe generates. The team will also ensure that the probe's solar panels capture enough energy to power its batteries for the 493,500,000km journey to Mars.

On Sunday, the team announced that everything is now set for the launch, which is expected to take place at 00:51:27 UAE time on Wednesday. All logistical and technical preparations have been completed for the launch.

The first signal

The MBRSC ground control team, headed by Zakareyya Al Shamsi, deputy project manager of the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), will be receiving data from Hope's operation processes, as well as its coordinates. The team will know its exact location and will ensure that every component is working accurately.

The probe should send its first signal after its separation from the rocket, Al Shamsi said. This particular signal is "very important" as it will allow the ground control team to stay connected to the probe and receive data for 30 days, he explained.

After the first month, the team will connect to the probe twice a week for seven months, with each connection lasting for six hours. During these periods, they will be able to gather data and send coordinates to the probe until it reaches the Martian orbit.

sahim@khaleejtimes.com

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