“To the people of the UAE, to the Arab and Muslim nations, we announce the succesful arrival to Mars orbit. Praise be to God,” said Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager.
Sharaf and other officials at mission control broke into applause, visibly relieved after a tense half-hour as the probe carried out a “burn” to slow itself enough to be pulled in by Martian gravity, in what was the most perilous stage of the journey.
It rotated and fired all six of its powerful thrusters to dramatically slow its average cruising speed of 121,000 kilometres (75,000 miles) per hour to about 18,000 kph.
Hope, which is designed to reveal the secrets of Martian weather, is the first of three spacecraft to arrive at the Red Planet this month.
The United Arab Emirates, China and the United States all launched missions in July, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.
The UAE’s venture marks the 50th anniversary of the unification of the UAE’s seven emirates.
While the probe is designed to provide a comprehensive image of the planet’s weather dynamics, it is also a step towards a much more ambitious goal — building a human settlement on Mars within 100 years.
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