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United Arab Emirates Hope Mars probe enters orbit and makes history

The UAE put its Al-Amal spacecraft into orbit around Mars ahead of China's and NASA's arrivals.

The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe aims to give a year-round picture of Mars' atmosphere.
Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre

This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

The United Arab Emirates is now only the fifth country -- and the first Arab country -- to successfully arrive at Mars. The Al Amal (Hope) probe made history Tuesday by entering orbit around the red planet.

This is a big month for Mars emissaries. The Hope mission is one of three to launch last year with scheduled arrivals in February. The UAE Space Agency provided live coverage of the spacecraft's inspiring achievement. You can re-watch the excitement:

We didn't get views of the spacecraft in action, but witnessed the celebration as mission control tracked when Hope entered orbit and phoned home with the good news. 

"Success!" the mission team tweeted. "Contact with Hope probe has been established again. The Mars Orbit Insertion is now complete."

Hope spent over 200 days traveling from Earth to the red planet. It won't deliver a rover, but it's set to take on some important science by studying the planet's atmosphere, weather and seasons.

Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA associate administrator, congratulated the Hope team, tweeting, "Your bold endeavor to explore the Red Planet will inspire many others to reach for the stars."

Hope will shortly be followed in orbit by China's Tianwen-1 on Wednesday, and NASA will take over the spotlight on Feb. 18 when it tries to land the Perseverance rover on the surface of the planet. It will be a perilous and exciting moment during a busy month at Mars. 

But first, the world will celebrate Hope.

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