Up And Above To Mars: History And Future

Up And Above To Mars: History And Future

UAE’s United Arab Emirates Space Agency, USA’s NASA and China’s CNSA are planning to launch back to back missions to Mars this month. With Elon Musk sticking to his ambitions of SpaceX sending human flights the red planet, what’s in it for us space enthusiasts?

Crux of the Matter

July, The Month Of Mars?
Three missions are planned to reach the red planet, Mars this month, the last one being NASA’s car-sized Perseverance rover, which will hunt for signs of life after its launch on July 30, 2020.

Meet NASA’s Perseverance!

The United Arab Emirates’ first-ever interplanetary effort, the Hope Mars mission, also called the Emirates Mars Mission is scheduled to launch on July 14 and reach the destination in early 2021.

Meet UAE Space Agency’s Hope!

Finally, on July 23, China’s first-ever fully homegrown mission – Tianwen-1, is scheduled to take off. The authorities remain reticent about the landing date and the exact mission.

Meet China Space Agency’s Tianwen-1!

Combined Plan Of Action?
The United States and Europe plan to bring the mysterious red planet’s material to Earth for further studies, in a space campaign planned by NASA and ESA in the year 2031. Scientists and astro-enthusiasts around the world will then scrutinize the material in-depth, looking for signs of life and clues about the red planet’s evolutionary history.

What Is Mangalyaan Up To?
Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) recently captured an alluring image of Mars’ biggest moon, Phobos.

Initially meant to last six months when it was launched on November 5, 2013, the mission got extended as authorities suggested it had fuel to make the rover last for “many years.”

ISRO’s brainchild Mangalyaan or MOM

Since then, it has been meticulously studying the planet’s surface and mineral composition by scanning the atmosphere for methane, which could be an indicator of Martian life.

What’s The Hurry?
All three nations – US, UAE, and China – have their own agenda in this common goal:

NASA’s primary dream since its inception has been to explore space. Subsequently, it has been sending robot probes to the red planet since the Mariner 4 in the mid-1960s. Unraveling its mystery would be a historical event of this century, surpassing its legendary Apollo moon landing.

China is planning such expeditions with an ambition of establishing its very own crewed space station. This would enhance its stature as a major space power.

The UAE is well aware that its oil and gas availability is losing its old appeal. This it has embarked on a national mission to create a high-tech economy, that would include an advanced space mission to Mars.

Successful Mars Exploration Missions From The Past

  • Mars Global Surveyor (1996 – 1997)
  • Spirit Rover (2003 – 2004)
  • Opportunity Rover (2003 – 2004)
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005 – 2006)
  • Phoenix (2007 – 2008)
  • Curiosity (2012 – until now)
  • NASA’s Viking project (first mission to land a spacecraft safely on the surface of another planet, 1975-1976)
Snapshot of ice on Mars, taken by Viking Lander 2, Source: Twitter

What Does The Future Hold For U?
With the success of Elon Musk‘s spaceflight company SpaceX’s first manned mission, Crew Dragon Demo-2, earlier this year, there would be full focus on the development on the ambitious Starship project.

Heavy-lift launch vehicle, SpaceX Starship

Set to be a next-generation spacecraft, the 50m tall, reusable beast was unveiled last year and is designed to carry a crew and cargo “to the moon, Mars or anywhere else in the solar system”, as per Musk. The tech billionaire is also open about his ambitious vision of building a colony on the red planet in this lifetime, with the first rocket propelling humans to the Red Planet by 2025.

How an artist imagines life to be at Mars, Source:Inverse
  • Asaph Hall III was an American astronomer who is most famous for having discovered the moons of Mars in 1877. The two moons are Deimos and Phobos, which are named after twin brothers in greek mythology which personify terror and fear respectively.
  • Mars One was a small private Dutch organization that received money from investors by claiming it would use it to land the first humans on Mars and leave them there to establish a permanent human colony. From its announcement in 2012 to its bankruptcy in early 2019, it is estimated to have received tens of millions of dollars.
  • A Princess of Mars is a science fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the first of his Barsoom series. The story is set on Mars, imagined as a dying planet with a harsh desert environment. This vision of Mars was based on the work of the astronomer Percival Lowell, whose ideas were widely popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Percival Lawrence Lowell was an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death.