A UAE space chief has hailed the "boundless potential" of the Hope probe after the latest findings from its orbit of Mars were shared with the world.
A fourth collection of scientific data, amassed between December 2021 and February, includes new insights into the planet's atmosphere.
The 118.5 gigabytes of information and images brings the total released by the probe to 688.5 gigabytes.
Hope's ultraviolet spectrometer was able to provide better coverage of the Red Planet's aurora and successfully observe its solar energetic particles and galactic cosmic rays.
In June 2021, the spacecraft captured rare images of the discrete aurora in Mars’ night side atmosphere.
The findings offered support to scientists seeking to better understand the interactions between solar radiation, the planet's magnetic fields and the atmosphere.
On Earth, the aurora borealis and aurora polaris (known as the Northern Lights) happen when protons and electrons from solar winds hit particles in the atmosphere, causing colourful lights in the sky.
A journey of discovery
Omran Sharaf, project director of Emirates Mars Mission, said the latest findings demonstrated the probe's ability to propel Red Planet research.
“We are thrilled to share the latest observations with the global scientific community," he said.
"As the Probe continues its planned mission to orbit around Mars, we will continue to identify ways in which we can enrich our discoveries and observations to deliver above and beyond our mission, to further enhance the international community’s knowledge and understanding of the Red Planet, and to bolster the UAE’s position in the global space domain.”
Hessa Al Matroushi, Emirates Mars Mission science lead, said the latest data shows there is still "much to discover" about the planet.
“The recent coverage from the Mars Hope probe is a tremendous feat and is evidence of the boundless potential that our instruments have in achieving science beyond what it was designed for," she said.
"The latest insights on Mars and its atmosphere reaffirm that there is much to discover, and we are looking forward to seeing the mission’s objectives of providing useful scientific data, enhancing national capabilities and fostering global collaboration come to fruition with every new data collected.”
The spacecraft entered the orbit of Mars on February 9, 2021 with a goal of studying the planet's dynamic weather system and atmospheric conditions.
The mission was developed by Emirati engineers and researchers, in collaboration with three US universities: the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Arizona and the University of California, Berkeley.
The crucial data beamed back to Earth by Hope aims to help scientists better understand the planet, including what causes hydrogen and oxygen to escape from its upper atmosphere.
Hope is also studying the relation between the higher and lower atmospheres of Mars, as well phenomena such as the planet’s intense dust storms.
The spacecraft tracked an enormous dust storm for two weeks, helping to show how quickly these can spread across the planet.
Data from the orbit of Mars is shared publicly by Emirates Mars Mission every three months.
To date, 1.7 terabytes of this data has been downloaded.