The 500-million-km journey should see the robotic craft arrive in February 2021 – in time for the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation.
Hope is one of three missions launching to Mars this month. The US and China both have surface rovers in the late stages of preparation.
The UAE has limited experience of designing and manufacturing spacecraft – and yet here it is attempting something only the US, Russia, Europe and India have succeeded in doing. But it speaks to the Emiratis’ ambition that they should dare to take on this challenge.
Their engineers, mentored by American experts, have produced a sophisticated probe in just six years – and when this satellite gets to Mars, it’s expected to deliver novel science, revealing fresh insights on the workings of the planet’s atmosphere.
In particular, scientists think it can add to our understanding of how Mars lost much of its air and with it a great deal of its water.