UAE Hope Probe expected to provide first complete picture of Mars in one week

UAE Hope Probe expected to provide first complete picture of Mars in one week
Omran Sharaf, project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, left, and Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s minister of state for advanced sciences and chair of the UAE Space Agency, discuss points at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center. (Arab News Japan)
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Updated 14 February 2021

UAE Hope Probe expected to provide first complete picture of Mars in one week

UAE Hope Probe expected to provide first complete picture of Mars in one week
  • Entry to orbit on the first attempt marked the end of a seven-month journey of nearly 500 million kilometers

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ robotic probe, named Hope entered Martian orbit, making it the fifth agency to successfully reach the red planet’s gravitational zone, joining NASA, the former Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and India.

In recent days, a number of prominent buildings and monuments across the Arab world, including Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower on Earth, were lit up at night in red in honor of Mars, the red planet.

“We officially transitioned today from the Mars orbit insertion phase and into Mars’ orbit. For the next two months, we will be preparing the spacecraft and the scientific instruments for going into the ‘Science Orbit,” Omran Sharaf, project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC), said in a press conference held Wednesday in MBRSC attended by Arab News.

Formally called Mars Orbit Insertion, the milestone was a critical step that required Hope to burn about half of its 800kg of fuel for 27 minutes to slow down enough for the spacecraft to be captured by Mars’ gravity and go into orbit. The probe rotated and fired all six of its powerful Delta V thrusters and slowed down from its average cruising speed of 121,000 kph to about 18,000 kph with no support from the mission’s engineers on the ground.

“In this process, we will have to calibrate the scientific instruments to make sure that the data is accurate so that by the time we start our science mission we are able to provide accurate data to the scientific community. We hope to get the first image one week from now, but that is independent from the preparations that we are doing for the science mission,” Sharaf added.

If attained, the Hope Probe will be the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and its layers.

Entry to orbit on the first attempt marked the end of a seven-month journey of nearly 500 million kilometers, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, the beginning of a breakthrough in scientific research and placed the Hope spacecraft on the bright side of grim Mars mission statistics: About than half of all the spacecraft that have been sent to Mars have failed.

Sharaf elaborated that the reason behind the UAE’s ability to overcome this complex maneuver, given the difficulty of the journey and the challenges that other countries have faced was because they “did not start from zero, but rather started where others ended.”

Hope’s engineers have practiced the maneuver repeatedly on data from other missions and hypothetical data through conducting over 100,000 tests in different scenarios within the span of two years to ensure that the probe successfully arrives to Mars, according to Sharaf.

Reaffirming his country’s commitment to the Artemis Accords, an international agreement aimed at ensuring peaceful collaboration among spacefaring nations, Sharaf said that “since day one of this project, the direction that we’ve received from the government has been to learn from others. Countries tend to perceive space exploration as a competition or as a race, but the UAE perceives it as an international cooperative space mission. Instead of starting everything from scratch and innovating alone, we built our project with and upon the research accumulated. For this reason, we had 450 people from different continents working on this project, of which 200 were Emiratis. So, the team collaborated as one under a single identity, which was the Mars Mission,” Sharaf said.

The Emirates Mars Mission is part of a larger investigation that planetary scientists have been pursuing for decades, hoping to discover what transformed Mars from a potentially habitable planet to the barren one seen today.

Hope will orbit Mars at a higher altitude than any previous Mars mission as it will orbit nearly parallel to the equator, allowing scientists to see half of the planet regardless of where the orbiter. Whereas most other Mars orbiters move around the poles, which limits the observation of global weather patterns. Its elliptical orbit will also help scientists learn more about how the nature of dust storms and other weather conditions near the surface can affect the speed at which Martian air leaks into outer space.

“The aim is to investigate the Martian atmosphere and to understand what happened on the red planet. As humans, we have a have a dead planet in front of us and something had happened to this planet within its atmospheric history that made it this way. We want to discover what happened there and what lead to the planet’s transformation to understand our solar system and the changes that happen within it as well as the changes that happen around our planet,” Sharaf said.

Despite the fact that Hope is a science mission, the data that it will gather is considered secondary to the primary goal of inspiring young people to practice science in order to accelerate the country’s transition towards becoming a knowledge-based economy.

Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s minister of state for advanced sciences and chair of the UAE Space Agency, said that the mission “has raised the ceilings of the young generation in terms of what they are capable of dreaming and becoming. After yesterday, I don’t think that there is an Emirati household that will perceive space exploration in the same manner. If one of their children aspire to become planetary scientists or delve into space exploration, no one can tell them that it is impossible.”

“The most significant objective of the Emirates Mars Mission is to spur a young generation of scientists and engineers to get into space systems development in order to assist the UAE in entering the space economy.”

“There is no activity that matches the unique challenges of space exploration. The outcome of a project like the Emirates Mars Mission will not only be visible today or in the development of sectors in the upcoming years, but it will be ingrained in the minds of schoolchildren, change their mindsets and introduce them to a world of new opportunities.”

“This mission gives strong reason for confidence that the investments made in space exploration will have positive impacts for future generations of the UAE.”


Oman night ban returns as ICU cases hit new record

Oman night ban returns as ICU cases hit new record
Updated 18 min 51 sec ago

Oman night ban returns as ICU cases hit new record

Oman night ban returns as ICU cases hit new record
  • There are more than 770 hospitalized COVID-19 patients
  • Authorities have renewed the ban on all commercial activities and movement of people and vehicles between 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

DUBAI: Oman has reported on Wednesday a record number of coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit as the Sultanate renewed night curfew, daily Times of Oman reported.

There are more than 770 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with 264 in ICU, for the first time since the pandemic started, the report said.

Authorities have renewed the ban on all commercial activities and movement of people and vehicles between 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. local time throughout the holy month of Ramadan.

All types of gatherings, including iftars in mosques, tents or public places typical during Ramadan are affected by the prohibition against mass assembly.

Oman’s Supreme Committee, which was created to deal with all coronavirus pandemic related developments, also imposed a ban on all social, sports and cultural activities and any other group activities.

Key sectoral workers such as in oil, healthcare, utilities, food supply, media and three-ton trucks are exempted from the movement ban, provided they have permissions. Pharmacies were also allowed to operate during the commercial ban.

The decisions can either be relaxed or toughened, depending on the pandemic situation, according to Dr. Abdullah Nasser Al-Harrasi, the minister of Information and a member of the COVID-19 Supreme Committee.


Turkish delegation to visit Egypt in May for ‘normalization’ talks: foreign minister

Turkish delegation to visit Egypt in May for ‘normalization’ talks: foreign minister
Updated 21 min 40 sec ago

Turkish delegation to visit Egypt in May for ‘normalization’ talks: foreign minister

Turkish delegation to visit Egypt in May for ‘normalization’ talks: foreign minister

ISTANBUL: A Turkish delegation will visit Egypt in May as part of Ankara’s efforts to mend ties, the foreign minister said on Thursday.
“Egypt invited a delegation from Turkey. The delegation will go in early May,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the private NTV broadcaster. “We will discuss openly how to normalize relations.”


US ready to facilitate maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel

US ready to facilitate maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel
Updated 12 min 16 sec ago

US ready to facilitate maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel

US ready to facilitate maritime border talks between Lebanon and Israel
  • He also addressed Iran’s cooperation and work with Hezbollah
  • The official also addressed the current economic and political crisis in the country and Hezbollah’s activities


DUBAI: The US Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale said on Thursday they are ready to facilitate a Lebanese-Israeli agreement on the maritime borders.

“These negotiations have the potential to unlock significant economic benefits for Lebanon,” Hale said during a press conference at Baabda palace in Lebanon.

The official also addressed the current economic and political crisis in the country and Hezbollah’s activities.

“(The) Lebanese people are suffering cause the leaders failed to put the interests of the country first,” Hale said.

“Hezbollah’s accumulation of dangerous weapons, smuggling and other illicit and corrupt activities undermine legitimate state institutions, they rob the Lebanese the ability to build a peaceful and prosperous country,” he added.

He also addressed Iran’s cooperation and work with Hezbollah.

“It’s Iran that’s fueling and financing this challenge to the state and its distortion of Lebanese political life,” Hale added.

The Under Secretary for Political Affairs also said that those who stand in the way may face punishment.

“Those who continue to obstruct progress on the reform agenda, jeopardize their relationship with the United States and our partners and open themselves up to punitive actions,” Hale added.


Jordan slams Israeli police bid to silence call to prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets

Jordan slams Israeli police bid to silence call to prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets
Updated 15 April 2021

Jordan slams Israeli police bid to silence call to prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets

Jordan slams Israeli police bid to silence call to prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets
  • Israel is a signatory to numerous international treaties obliging it to respect the sanctity of holy places

AMMAN: Jordan on Wednesday condemned Israeli police for sabotaging door locks at four Al-Aqsa Mosque minarets in a bid to silence the Muslim call to prayer.

The move came after waqf officials, who oversee Jerusalem’s holy sites, refused to turn off loudspeakers on the first day of Ramadan. They said the Israelis had wanted it quiet while new soldiers prayed at the Buraq (Western) wall.

Jordanian officials claimed employees of the Jordan-run Jerusalem waqf and Al-Aqsa affairs department were harassed during the police operation.

Daifallah Al-Fayez, spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, described the Israeli actions as a provocation against Muslims around the world and a violation of international law and the historical status quo.

He said that Al-Aqsa Mosque was a “pure” Islamic holy site and that the Jerusalem waqf department was “the sole authority” tasked with supervising all of its affairs.

A source at the Jerusalem Waqf Council told Arab News: “This is the first time since 1967 that Israeli occupiers have sabotaged locks in order to enter the minarets and physically cut off the electricity to the loudspeakers. And they pursued waqf officials and staff who refused to carry out their demands.”

Israel is a signatory to numerous international treaties obliging it to respect the sanctity of holy places.

An Israeli siren was sounded in Jerusalem at 8 p.m. on Tuesday as a tribute to the country’s 23,928 fallen soldiers with that day’s call for isha prayer in the city being at 8:29 p.m.

Hanna Issa, head of the Islamic-Christian Committee for Jerusalem, told Arab News that the Israeli action had been a violation of the 1998 Rome Convention and called on the international community to hold Israel to account.

Dimitri Diliani, president of the National Christian Coalition in the Holy Land, told Arab News that the incident was an attempt to stifle religious freedoms and represented an attack against Islamic holy places.

“In addition, this is a reflection of a racist policy of the Israeli occupiers that can’t accept anyone who is not Jewish,” he said.

Ahmad Tamimi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, urged international action to put an end to Israeli violations of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem.


Exposed: Houthi plan to prosecute kidnapped Yemeni model Entisar Hammadi

Exposed: Houthi plan to prosecute kidnapped Yemeni model Entisar Hammadi
Updated 50 min 52 sec ago

Exposed: Houthi plan to prosecute kidnapped Yemeni model Entisar Hammadi

Exposed: Houthi plan to prosecute kidnapped Yemeni model Entisar Hammadi
  • Kidnapping of Al-Hammadi and two friends is latest attack by the Houthis on dissidents

AL-MUKALLA: Iran-backed Houthis plan to launch a criminal investigation against Entesar Al-Hammadi, a young Yemeni model and actress, who was abducted from a Sanaa street on Feb. 20, the model’s lawyer Khaled Mohammed Al-Kamal said on Wednesday.

The kidnapping of Al-Hammadi and two of her friends is the latest in a string of attacks by the Houthis on dissidents and liberal women in areas under the group’s control.

Al-Kamal told Arab News that a prosecutor from the rebel-controlled West Sanaa court will question Entesar on Sunday.

“My client was arrested without a warrant,” Al-Kamal said by telephone, giving no information about the Houthis’ explanation for the abduction.

Yemeni officials said the three actresses were traveling to shoot a drama series when the rebels stopped their vehicle on Sanaa’s Hadda Street and took them to an unknown location.
 


Al-Hammadi was born to a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother and pursued her ambition to become a model despite growing up in a conservative society. The 20-year-old first caught the public’s attention after she published images showing off traditional Yemeni costumes and she later appeared on a local television show talking about her dream of becoming an international supermodel.

The Houthis accused the abducted actresses of violating traditional Islamic dress codes.

Their detainment has sparked outrage inside and outside Yemen as human rights activists and government officials compared Houthi suppression of women to similar activities by terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh.


Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister for information, culture and tourism, said the rebels have launched a “systemic and organized” crackdown on Yemeni women in areas under their control.

“We call on the international community, the UN, the US envoys to Yemen and the women's protection organizations to condemn this crime and pressure the terrorist Houthi militia to immediately release the abductees,” the minister wrote on social media. “They must stop the extortion of women and release all disappeared women from their secret prisons unconditionally.”

Al-Hammadi told a local TV station last year that she wished she could travel abroad to work as a model, citing parental and societal resistance at home.

“It would be great if I was given an opportunity outside Yemen,” she said.

 

 


Social media users have blasted the Houthis for snatching women from the street.

Huda Al-Sarari, a Yemeni activist, said that the abduction of Al-Hammadi is part of “a dirty” campaign by the rebels against women.

“My solidarity is with my dear Entisar and with all male and female abductees inside the militia’s prisons,” she wrote on Twitter.

Amat Al-Salam Al-Hajj, chairwoman of the Mothers of Abductees Association, an umbrella organization for thousands of female relatives of war prisoners, told Arab News that the Houthis have “brazenly” committed crimes against dissidents and women amid “unexplained” silence of international rights organizations.

“The Houthis have abducted models and female activists and committed flagrant violations of human rights before the eyes and ears of the UN, human rights organizations, and everyone else,” she said.