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NASA to put communications capability on UAE’s Mars spacecraft ‘Hope’ that will reach Red Planet in 2021

The Hope spacecraft will travel more than 60 million km in its nine-month journey, coinciding with the UAE's 50th anniversary in 2021

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Dubai, November 27, 2016: US space agency NASA will work with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency to put communications capability on the UAE’s Mars spacecraft Hope that will reach the Red Planet in 2021, an official said on Sunday.

Dr Gale Allen, NASA’s Deputy Chief Scientist, in an interview to Gulf News said that the development is part of an “umbrella agreement” for collaboration between the two agencies.

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“We want to work very closely with the UAE on any other missions going forward,” Allen, who was in the UAE for the UN-UAE High Level Forum on “Space as a Driver for Socio-Economic Sustainable Development”, was quoted as saying.

“For the Mars probe, one of things that is very interesting to us is an opportunity to put communications capability on the probe. The importance for us is that we really want to send humans to Mars in the 2030s,” she said.

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“We are looking at, possibly at some point, putting better communications up there. If we could partner and leverage the UAE Mars probe, it is certainly going to be beneficial for us,” she noted.

On the agreement, she pointed out that it was an “umbrella agreement”, which meant that NASA wanted to collaborate in future space exploration missions.

“The Mars probe is the first step in…collaborations, but we certainly look at this as a long-term partnership,” she noted.

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The Hope spacecraft will travel more than 60 million km in its nine-month journey, coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

The mission will be supervised by the UAE Space Agency and developed by Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), with support from international partners. (IANS)

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NASA’S Mars Odyssey Spacecraft Captures First Images of the Martian Moon Phobos after 16 years

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres

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Phobos
On September 29, Phobos was observed by Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, which has been launched in 2001. Pixabay

Washington, October 8, 2017 : After orbiting the Red Planet for 16 years, NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft has captured its first images of the Martian moon Phobos.

The Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on Mars Odyssey orbiter, launched in 2001, observed Phobos on September 29.

Phobos has an oblong shape with an average diameter of about 22 kilometres.

Cameras on other Mars orbiters have previously taken higher-resolution images of Phobos, but none with the infrared information available from THEMIS.

Observations in multiple bands of thermal-infrared wavelengths can yield information about the mineral composition of the surface, as well as the surface texture, NASA said in a statement this week.

“Although THEMIS has been at Mars for 16 years, this was the first time we have been able to turn the spacecraft around to look at Phobos,” said THEMIS Mission Planner Jonathon Hill of Arizona State University.

The researchers combined visible-wavelength and infrared data to produce an image color-coded for surface temperatures of this moon, which has been considered for a potential future human-mission outpost, NASA said.

“This half-moon view of Phobos was chosen because it allowed us to observe a wide range of temperatures on the surface,” Hill added.

ALSO READ NASA Scientists Reveal New Information on Mars’ Formation and Evolution, Claim The Red Planet has a Porous Crust

One major question about Phobos and Mars’ even smaller moon, Deimos, is whether they are captured asteroids or bits of Mars knocked into the sky by impact.

The researchers believe that compositional information from THEMIS might help pin down their origin.

Since Odyssey began orbiting the Red Planet in 2001, THEMIS has provided compositional and thermal properties information from all over Mars, but never before imaged either Martian moon.

The September 29 observation was completed to validate that the spacecraft could safely do so, as the start of a possible series of observations of Phobos and Deimos in coming months.

“There is heightened interest in Phobos because of the possibility that future astronauts could perhaps use it as an outpost,” said Odyssey Project Scientist Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (IANS)