As space races go, the UAE's Mars mission has been out of this world.
It's been eight years since the UAE announced the creation of the UAE Space Agency, on July 16, 2014. The agency was established with one goal: to reach the Red Planet by 2021.
This ambition became a reality on February 9, 2021, when the UAE became the first Arab country to arrive at the Red Planet. The Hope probe travelled more than 340 million kilometres to reach the planet.
The late President Sheikh Khalifa led the tributes as the nation rejoiced at the success of the Hope probe's historic journey to Mars in February last year.
He congratulated the country's citizens and residents on a brilliant new chapter in the UAE's history and praised UAE leaders' roles in the success.
"This historic achievement would not have been possible without the persistence and determination to implement the idea that emerged at the end of 2013 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who followed it up closely until its success," Sheikh Khalifa said.
"Thanks to both leaders and the team of scientists and engineers behind the project for proving to the world that the UAE is capable of achieving the impossible."
The successful mission was instantly lauded as one that would inspire the young people of the UAE to explore space.
Rohan Roberts, who leads an astronomy programme at Gems Wellington Academy in Al Khail, told The National: "The youth are so inspired by the Hope probe. It creates a sense of awe and wonder about the universe we live in and fills their minds with optimism
"It's a nice counterbalance to the doom and gloom narrative of traditional media, where we emphasise the negative, and students are always thinking that the future is dystopian. It gives students excitement and hope for the future."
More than 200 engineers and scientists contributed to the mission, including three US universities that helped build the spacecraft and science goals.
In the 17 months since the Hope probe successfully reached Mars, it has sent reams of data containing thousands of images of the planet, helping give the world a greater understanding of its solar system neighbour.
In March 2020, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, shared images showing the solar system’s largest known volcano, Olympus Mons.
“Olympus Mons … highest peak in our solar system. Almost three times the height of Mount Everest. Taken by Hope Probe at 13,000km above Mars surface,” Sheikh Hamdan wrote.
Olympus Mons is in the Tharsis region of Mars and measures 642 kilometres in diameter, according to US space agency Nasa.