The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) is now in its final orbit of Mars and ready for its two-year science data gathering phase, it was announced on Monday.

The first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation has announced it had commenced its transition from its capture orbit to its science orbit with the completion of a 510-second (8.36 minutes) burn of its thrusters.

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“Although the Hope Probe is a huge achievement and a source of great national pride, its core objective, defined right from day one of this mission, is to build the first complete picture of Mars’ atmospheric dynamics,” said Omran Sharaf, EMM project director, in comments published by state news agency WAM.

“The TSM manoeuvre was critically important and I can say was the last truly scary moment for the mission because there was a very real risk of losing the spacecraft during this last burn. We’re now assessing the results of that burn, but I can say we are confident that we will not need a further large correction manoeuvre.”

The science phase will commence on April 14 with a number of calibration and test runs that aim to establish a sound baseline for the accurate and efficient management of the measurements from the spacecraft’s three instruments.

The mission’s two-year science data collection will formally commence on May 23, with data being made available globally in October.

“Once we have established our stable science orbit and deployed our instruments, we can start building datasets and testing our systems with the live data,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, EMM science lead. “This is the data we will be processing, formatting and sharing with the world’s science and academic communities openly through our website.”

As well as measuring hydrogen, oxygen, carbon monoxide and ozone, the probe will capture variations in temperature. The 25-degree orbit of the Hope Probe enables a planet-wide, high resolution sample to be taken each 225 hours.

The Hope Probe carries three science instruments – the Emirates eXploration Imager, a 12 megapixel digital camera, the Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer and the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer.

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