The UAE Space Agency’s Hope probe has reached Mars, slowed and adjusted it’s trajectory and entered into a wide orbit around the red planet.
This is the first image it sent back to Earth, with the solar system’s largest volcano – Olympus Mons – emerging from the terminator. Running down the centre are the trio of shield volcanoes, Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons and Arsia Mons. Towards the east and disappearing out of sight, the lighter coloured Valles Marineris is clearly visible, a vast canyon system stretching for 4,000km and as deep as 7km in places.
There will be a lot of activity surrounding Mars in the coming days, weeks and months, with China’s Tianwen-1 having reached the planet and already in orbit. The Tianwen-1 will be much closer to the planet than Hope, with the plan of delivering a rover down to the surface in a couple of months.
And the US probe Perseverance will arrive in a week, carrying one of the largest and most sophisticated rovers ever taken to Mars. Perseverance will attempt an immediate landing in the Jezero crater close to the equator.
You can expect a lot of seven minutes of terror in 2021.