The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched the Hope spacecraft seven months ago, aiming to put a probe in orbit at Mars to study its atmosphere. Hope is about to reach the decisive moment in its long journey on Tuesday.
Success would enable Hope to begin its mission to study Mars’ climate and probably made history for the UAE as it seeks to place a probe around Mars today.
The spacecraft which is currently moving at over 120,000km/h (75,000mph) must require firing its braking engines for 27 minutes to be sure of being captured by the gravity of Mars.
The approach speed needs to come down to about 18,000km/h.
Hope is the first of three missions to arrive at the Red Planet this month.
Mission control at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in Dubai will stream some data on the performance of spacecraft’s thrusters.
Mars and Earth are presently separated by 190 million km which means it would take 11 minutes for a radio command to reach the probe. Hence, Hope must rely on autonomy to complete the manoeuvre.
The project director, Omran Sharaf said, "We're entering a very critical phase adding that It's a phase that basically defines whether we reach Mars, or not and whether we'll be able to conduct our science, or not”.
He further added, "If we go too slow, we crash on Mars; if we go too fast, we skip Mars”.