Mission to Mars
Three countries- China, UAE and US has launched their respective Mar’s mission in the month of July.
UAE’s Emirates mars mission
• This is the first space mission by the UAE, and the first Arab mission to Mars.
• The Emirates Mars Mission "Hope Probe" will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers when it reaches the red planet’s orbit in 2021.
• It will help answer key questions about the global Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year.
• With no previous domestic space exploration experience, planetary science capacity or suitable infrastructure, the nation managed to put together a delivery team of 100% local, Emirati staff with an average age of under 35.
• Despite the fact that Mars missions are notorious for their high failure rates, UAE aim for the red planet in the first place. Space programmes have historically been used as catalysts for geopolitical influence.
• The UAE’s mission has been timed to coincide Hope’s arrival into Martian orbit with the nation’s 50th anniversary as an independent country.
• Through its design and execution, the mission aims to diversify UAE’s economy from traditional activity, including oil and finance.
• Instead, it wants to inspire a young Arab generation towards scientific and entrepreneurial careers – and away from other, less societally beneficial pathways.
• Understand climate dynamics and the global weather map through characterizing the lower atmosphere of Mars.
• Explain how the weather changes the escape of Hydrogen and Oxygen through correlating the lower atmosphere conditions with the upper atmosphere.
• Understand the structure and variability of Hydrogen and Oxygen in the upper atmosphere, as well as identifying why Mars is losing them into space.
Chinese Tianwen-1 mission to Mars
• China has launched a rover to Mars on 23rd of July 2020, signalling a space race with the US, where NASA is set to launch its own rover on July 30.
• This is a period that offers a window for such launches, with the alignment of Earth and Mars allowing a short journey.
• China’s first Mars probe is called Tianwen-1, which means “Questions to Heaven”.
• The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, and the mission aims to study the thickness and sub-layer distribution of the Martian soil.
• The spacecraft, weighing 5 tonnes, launched on a Long March 5 rocket from Xichang, China.
• The scientific goals of the mission include studying Martian topography and geology and determining the composition of the surface material, climate and environment.
• Tianwen-1 will reach the Red Planet’s orbit in February 2021. The rover will land on Mars in May.
• The orbiter will use high-resolution cameras to search for a suitable landing site somewhere in the Utopia Planitia region. It weighs around 240 kg and will carry cameras, a subsurface radar, a spectrometer, a magnetometer, and atmospheric sensors.
US’s Perseverance Rover mission to Mars
• The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet.
• The mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars.
• Perseverance takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself.
• The rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a "cache" on the surface of Mars.
• A future mission could potentially return these samples to Earth. That would help scientists study the samples in laboratories with special room-sized equipment that would be too large to take to Mars.
• The mission also provides opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars.
• These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.
Why go to Mars?
Mars is an obvious target for exploration because it is close by in our Solar System, but there are many more reasons to explore the Red Planet.
The scientific reasons for going to Mars can be summarised by the search for life, understanding the surface and the planet’s evolution, and preparing for future human exploration.
Mars is an excellent place to investigate the existence of life beyond the Earth because it is the most similar planet to Earth in the Solar System. Evidence suggests that Mars was once full of water, warmer and had a thicker atmosphere, offering a potentially habitable environment.
While life arose and evolved on Earth, Mars experienced serious climate change. Planetary geologists can study rocks, sediments and soils for clues to uncover the history of the surface.
Scientists are interested in the history of water on Mars to understand how life could have survived. Volcanoes, craters from meteoroid impacts, signs of atmospheric or photochemical effects and geophysical processes all carry aspects of Mars’ history.
Samples of the atmosphere could reveal crucial details on its formation and evolution, and also why Mars has less atmosphere than Earth.
Mars can also help us to learn more about our home. Understanding martian geophysical processes promises to uncover details of the evolution and history of Earth and other planets in our Solar
To reduce the cost and risk for human exploration of Mars, robotic missions can scout ahead and help us to find potential resources and the risks of working on the planet.
Before sending astronauts, we need to understand the hazards. Inevitably, astronauts would bring uncontained martian material when they return to Earth, either on their equipment or on themselves. Understanding any biohazards in the soil and dust will help the planning and preparation of these future missions.
Going to Mars is hard and it is even harder for humans because we would need to pack everything to survive the trip to our neighbouring planet and back.
Designing a Mars mission would be easier if we could use resources that are already available locally.
Water is a valuable resource for human expeditions, both to consume by astronauts and for fuel. Samples gathered by robots could help to evaluate where potential resources are available for future human explorers and how to exploit them.