In interplanetary news, UAE’s historic Mars probe now has a launch date. The lift-off of the first Arab venture to the Red Planet has been scheduled for July 15, from Japan’s Tanegashima island, where the probe was delivered last month despite global COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Hope Probe’s journey will take seven to nine months, and the officials hope it will reach Mars in time for the UAE’s 50th anniversary next year. The first of its kind in the Arab world, Hope was built by a team of 150 Emirati engineers, scientists, and researchers, with the support of three US universities, in 6 years instead of the foreseen 10, and officials report at half the projected cost.

“The Hope Probe represents a turning point for the Arab and Islamic world in the space sector,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai when the probe was delivered to its launch site in Japan. “Reaching Mars is not only a scientific goal, it sends a message to our Arab youth that we are capable and that hope transcends the distance between earth and the skies.”

Once it reaches Mars, the Hope Probe will collect two years’ worth of data on the planet’s lower and upper atmosphere. It will also search for connections between current weather and the planet’s ancient climate, potentially providing insight into our own planet’s future, as well as the potential of life on Mars.

Photo: AP.