The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket carrying the Hope Mars orbiter for the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will launch its first-ever interplanetary mission today to Mars.

The Emirates Mars Mission, also known as Hope, is scheduled to launch atop an H-IIA rocket from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center today at 5:58 p.m. EDT (2158 GMT; 6:58 a.m. July 20 Japan Standard Time.

If all goes according to plan, the $200 million Hope mission will arrive in Mars orbit in early 2021.

Then it will study the Red Planet from above for at least one Mars year.

That in earth terms means a little less than two Earth years.

The mission will provide a more detailed and comprehensive understanding of the Martian atmosphere, team members have said.

Key to that goal is Hope’s unique equator-circling orbit, which will give the probe a new perspective of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-dominated air.—Space.com