The United Arab Emirates is launching the Arab world's first mission to Mars — here's how to watch

United Arab Emirates Hope Mars MissionThe UAE’s Hope orbiter

The United Arab Emirates is set to launch its first mission to Mars on Sunday. It will be the Arab world’s first flight to another planet.

The SUV-sized spacecraft, called the Hope probe, will spend seven months travelling to Mars. Once it arrives, Hope will study the red planet’s atmosphere by monitoring how it interacts with solar wind and tracking its loss of hydrogen and oxygen. Its goal will be to chart a global map of the planet’s climate across an entire Martian year.

That would be humanity’s first such holistic picture of Mars’ atmosphere.

“We’ll be able to cover all of Mars, through all times of day, through an entire Martian year,” Sarah Al Amiri, science lead for the mission and the UAE’s minister for advanced sciences, told Nature.

Kamran Jebreili/AP PhotoSarah Amiri, Deputy Project Manager, talks about the project named ‘Hope’ — or ‘al-Amal’ in Arabic — during a ceremony in Dubai, UAE, May 6, 2015.

Because of its large, oval-shaped orbit, Hope should be able to capture most of the planet in each of its 55-hour orbits.

“The Emiratis were very keen to make this not just a technology demonstrator, but make it contribute to the scientific understanding of Mars,” Richard Zurek, chief scientist for the Mars Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told Nature.

The probe was originally set to launch from the Tenaghashima Space Centre in Japan on Tuesday, but a poor weather forecast prompted officials to delay the flight, a spokesperson for the mission told Business Insider in an email.

Thunderstorms and other unstable conditions led to further delays. The launch is now set for Sunday at 5:58 p.m. Eastern Time (that’s Monday morning in Japan), according to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the Japanese launch provider.

UAE Space AgencyThe UAE’s Mars Hope probe.

Hope is one of three missions poised to launch for Mars in the final weeks of July. NASA plans to launch its next Mars rover, called Perseverance, on July 30. China is also gearing up to launch a rover, along with its own Mars-orbiting spacecraft, before the month is over.

The launches are scheduled so close together because they must catch Mars as it passes close to Earth in the planets’ orbital paths. If the agencies involved miss this chance, they won’t have another opportunity to launch until 2022.

If all goes well, the Hope probe will reach Mars by February 2021 and study the planet from above for two years.

Watch the UAE’s livestream of the launch below.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will also broadcast the launch live:

Dave Mosher contributed to reporting to this story.

This story has been updated with new information. It was originally published on July 13, 2020.

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