Members of the history-making UAE Hope probe team were given a warm welcome as they touched down at Abu Dhabi International Airport on Friday night.
The UAE Space Agency team who helped mastermind the Emirates Mars Mission flew back to the UAE from the Haneda International Airport in Japan, following the successful launch of the Hope Probe on July 20.
Airport staff were on the tarmac to greet the delegation on their return from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.
The Hope probe will collect information about the Martian atmosphere and should enter the Red Planet's orbit in February, more than 200 days after leaving Earth.
The probe's 500-million kilometre journey has just begun but it is already a testament to youth and investment in science and technology, said Shareef Al Hashmi, the airport’s chief executive officer.
“Developing the UAE’s aerospace sector, through investing in STEM education and the deployment of cutting-edge infrastructure, will have a transformative impact on our nation’s economy and society, encouraging our transition to a knowledge-based economy in line with the objectives of Abu Dhabi Plan and UAE Centennial 2071,” said Mr Al Hashmi.
Hope traveled more than one million kilometres in its first four days.
The Arab world's first mission to the Red Planet has made headlines around the world and won fulsome praise from leaders in the UAE.
President Sheikh Khalifa said the launch was a "glorious day" for the Emirates.
He paid tribute to those who had spearheaded the remarkable project for displaying "bright minds" and being "highly qualified and trained, loyal, and sincere in their loyalty and allegiance."
The Hope probe took off from Japan's Tanegashima Space Centre at 1.58am UAE time on Monday, July 20.
Two previous attempts to launch the craft in the last week were called off because of adverse weather.
It was third time lucky and a moment to rejoice for an entire nation and, in particular, the country's burgeoning space programme.
Omran Al Sharaf, director of the mission, said the huge responsibility of bringing the Hope probe project to fruition had consumed his life for several years.
Hope's arrival in Mars’ orbit is expected to be in February 2021 and will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the UAE's formation.