A rendering of the Hope probe, which will reach Mars’ orbit in 2021.

Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

The United Arab Emirates’ is heading to space with a satellite known as “Hope.” When the probe reaches orbit around the red planet in early 2021, it will become the first probe to give a full picture of the Martian atmosphere, offering a holistic view of how Mars’ climate varies during the year. But it’s also slated to notch up another historic first: It will be the first interplanetary mission led by an Arab, Muslim-majority country.

“The intent was not to put a message or declaration to the world,” Sarah Al Amiri, chair of the UAE Council of Scientists and deputy project manager for the Emirates Mars Mission, told CNET in March. “It was, for us, more of an internal reinforcement of what the UAE is about.”  

The satellite will study the connections between Mars’ lower and upper atmosphere and examine what causes the loss of hydrogen and oxygen into space. It’ll collect data for two years after achieving its orbit around Mars in February 2021. There’s an option to extend the mission to 2025.

Aboard Hope are three instruments which will enable the probe to study the Martian atmosphere more intensely. There’s a high-resolution camera known as the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), a UV imager known as the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS), and a scanning infrared imager dubbed the Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer (EMIRS).  

How to watch Hope launch to Mars

The launch from Tanegashima, Japan, opens Tuesday, July 14, at 1:51 p.m. PT. It’ll launch on a Mitsubishi H-IIA booster. The rocket isn’t quite as famous as the likes of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy rockets, but it does have a great launch history, with over 40 successful launches under its belt, mostly of Japanese satellite systems.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre will carry a livestream of the launch from Japan, which you can watch via this link. If an opportunity to embed the stream is available, you’ll be able to watch the historic launch here, too.

In the meantime, if you’re interested about the hunt for life on Mars, we recommend reading about the Space Tiger King and NASA’s next mission, Perseverance.  

Now playing:
Watch this:

Hacking the Apocalypse trailer