A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates was set to swing into orbit around Mars in the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission on Tuesday, the first of three robotic explorers arriving at the red planet over the next week and a half.
The orbiter, called Amal, Arabic for Hope, travelled 300 million miles in nearly seven months to get to Mars with the goal of mapping its atmosphere throughout each season.
A combination of orbiter and lander from China is close behind, scheduled to reach the planet on Wednesday. It will circle Mars until the rover separates and attempts to land on the surface in May to look for signs of ancient life.
A rover from the US named Perseverance is set to join the crowd next week, aiming for a landing February 18. It will be the first
leg in a decade-long US-European project to bring Mars rocks back to Earth to be examined for evidence the planet once harbored microscopic life.