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Emirates Mars

This Feb 10, 2021, image of Mars taken by the United Arab Emirates’ Al-Amal, or Hope, probe was released on Sunday, Feb 14, 2021. The probe now circles the Red Planet. (Photo: AP/Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center, UAE Space Agency)

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DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ Hope probe sent back its first image of Mars, the country’s national space agency said on Sunday (Feb 14), days after the spacecraft successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit.

The picture “captured the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, emerging into the early morning sunlight”, it said in a statement.

The image was taken from an altitude of 24,700km above the Martian surface on Wednesday, a day after the probe entered Mars’ orbit, the agency said in a statement.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE prime minister and Dubai’s ruler, shared the colour image on Twitter.

“The first picture of Mars captured by the first-ever Arab probe in history,” he wrote.

The mission is designed to reveal the secrets of Martian weather, but the UAE also wants it to serve as an inspiration for the region’s youth.

READ: UAE’s Hope probe enters Mars orbit in first for Arab world

READ: Mars ready for its close-up: China releases space probe’s first image

Hope became the first of three spacecraft to arrive at the Red Planet this month after China and the United States also launched missions last July, taking advantage of a period when the Earth and Mars are nearest.

The UAE’s venture is also timed to mark the 50th anniversary of the unification of the nation’s seven emirates.

Hope will orbit the Red Planet for at least one Martian year, or 687 days, using three scientific instruments to monitor the Martian atmosphere.

It is expected to begin transmitting more information back to Earth in September, with the data available for scientists around the world to study.

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