/ 10 February 2021

A big couple of weeks on Mars

Amal is about to swing into orbit around Mars. Don’t worry – the human rights lawyer hasn’t added ‘space explorer’ to her already impressive CV… Amal is Arabic for Hope, and it’s a spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates that’s become the first of 3 to make it to Mars with probes from China and the US following over the next week and a half. The 480 million km journey has taken each spacecraft nearly 7 months to complete, and each mission has a different focus. Hope will go around and around the planet while mapping its atmosphere. China’s rover will attempt to land on the surface in May to search for signs of life. And America’s ‘Perseverance’ mission will also attempt a landing to collect rocks to bring back to Earth. About 60% of previous Mars missions have ended in failure. Which coincidently is our success rate for baking sponge cake…

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