Emirates Mars Mission infrared spectrometer provides Hope orbiter’s first temperature map of the red planet

March 9, 2021

The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, reached Mars’ orbit on Feb. 9, 2021. Now, some of the first images from the spacecraft’s instruments are available, including planetwide infrared images from the ASU-designed Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS).

EMIRS was a joint development effort by teams from ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, Northern Arizona University’s Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science, and the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, supported by teams from University of Colorado, Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. Caption: An artist’s impression of the United Arab Emirates’ Hope spacecraft in orbit around Mars, where it arrived on Feb. 9, 2021. Credit: MBRSC Download Full Image

“Our work together with the teams at ASU and NAU on EMIRS has brought together some of the world’s most respected experts in planetary atmospheric science together with younger learners who have benefited immensely from the development of the instrument and its scientific goals and resulting data sets,” said Omran Sharaf, project director of the Emirates Mars Mission.

EMIRS provides a unique view of the lower and middle atmosphere of the planet, measuring the distribution of dust particles and ice clouds while tracking the movement of water vapor and heat through the atmosphere.

In this initial image from the instrument, EMIRS provides results of measurements of thermal infrared energy emitted from the surface (top row) and from the atmosphere (bottom row).

In the right column, EMIRS measurement locations were mapped to the planet, colorized by temperature, and overlain on a Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter shaded relief map. In the left column, data between measurements were interpolated, colorized by temperature, and overlain on a Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter shaded relief map to form a continuous image.

The Emirates Mars InfraRed Spectrometer (EMIRS) measures the thermal infrared energy emitted from the surface of Mars (top row) and its interaction with the Martian atmosphere (bottom row). Image credit: Emirates Mars Mission/EMIRS

“This is the first global snapshot of the atmosphere that we have seen since the 1970’s Viking mission,” said EMIRS Development Lead Philip Christensen, who is an ASU Regents Professor and planetary scientist. “Weather is a global process, so having these global views gives us a powerful new tool for studying the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere and how it changes over time.”

The purple-green-blue hues show that the measurements were taken of the Martian nightside, although dawn on the planet can be seen on the right-hand side of the surface temperature image, as depicted by the red hues. Features such as Arabia Terra, which has cold nighttime temperatures, can be observed in the upper left portion of the surface temperature data, depicted by the blue and purple hues.

“EMIRS is going to acquire about 60 more images like this per week once we transition into the primary science phase of the Emirates Mars Mission,” said EMIRS Instrument Scientist Christopher Edwards, who is an assistant professor and planetary scientist at NAU. “We’ll use these images and sophisticated computer programs to build up a complete global, daily understanding of the Martian atmospheric components, like dust, water ice, water vapor and atmospheric temperature.”

The Emirates Mars Mission is being carried out by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in the United Arab Emirates in collaboration with a number of research institutions including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Hope will spend one Martian year (about two Earth years) orbiting the red planet gathering crucial science data.  

“The scientific goal of the mission is to give us an unprecedented global view of the Martian atmosphere,” said Hessa Al Matroushi, science lead for the Emirates Mars Mission. “Such a perspective is necessary to understand the connections within and between the upper and lower atmospheres and how those connections help to drive atmospheric escape. We believe this escape has helped to shape Mars’ evolution from a warm, episodically wet world in the ancient past to the cold, dry planet we see today.”

Unique to Hope is its orbit, which enables near-complete daily and geographic coverage, providing a weather-satellite style view of all layers of the Martian atmosphere from the surface on up to space.

This mission is giving scientists greater insight into how our own planet may have evolved, as well as enabling greatly improved weather forecasting to help support future human missions to Mars. Importantly, Hope addresses several key goals of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (representing the consensus of the international Mars community) in regard to both science and human exploration. 

In addition to EMIRS, the orbiter includes a multi-band camera called the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI) and a far-ultraviolet imaging spectrograph called the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS). The EXI camera is capable of taking high resolution images and will measure properties of water, ice, dust, aerosols and ozone in Mars’ atmosphere. The EMUS spectrometer will measure global characteristics and variability in the thermosphere and hydrogen and oxygen coronae. Both were developed at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at University of Colorado, Boulder.

The spacecraft, which is about the size of a small car, was constructed at Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics by a joint team led by Project Director Omran Sharaf and deputy program manager Sarah Al Amiri from Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. Al Amiri currently serves as chair of the UAE Space Agency. The overall team working on the mission is comprised of some 200 staff from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, 150 from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and 100 from other partners, as well as an international science team.

The mission’s name, Hope, was chosen to send a message of optimism to millions of young Arabs, according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai for whom Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre is named. The resulting mission data aims to make major advances in our understanding of the Martian climate system and will be shared freely online with more than 200 institutions worldwide.

Karin Valentine

Media Relations & Marketing manager, School of Earth and Space Exploration


5 new faculty join ASU's Department of English, Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

March 9, 2021

This fall, Arizona State University’s Department of English and Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies will welcome five new faculty members who will work toward the center’s mission of enabling and promoting the most expansive, creative and daring scholarship in medieval and renaissance studies. 

This hiring initiative was led by Ayanna Thompson, director of the center and a Regents Professor in the Department of English, in an effort to elevate scholars of color working on issues of race in premodern studies. ACMRS new professors From left: Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, Madeline Sayet, Ruben Espinosa, Brandi Adams and Mariam Galarrita. Download Full Image

“With the five BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) scholars joining our seven other early modernists, ASU will have the strongest Shakespeare program in the country,” Thompson said.

“The university’s investment in early modern studies is groundbreaking, and it will put ASU’s Department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the forefront of Shakespeare studies.

"The scholars in the cluster hire are remarkably impressive teachers, scholars and community members. The ASU community will be enriched by their inclusion.”

Meet the new faculty members of the Department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies:

Brandi Adams, assistant professor

Adams' interests lie at the intersection of book history, history of reading, early modern English drama, premodern critical race studies and gender along with modern editorial practices of early English drama. She is also interested in the early history of artificial intelligence, early modern automata and how studying literature can have a significant and positive impact on computing.

In her work in early modern and Renaissance studies and literature, she presents a history of reading and books as told through early plays published in England during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Prior to coming to ASU she served as an undergraduate program manager at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in several roles at the University of Maryland including as associate director of communications. Adams received a PhD in English literature from the University of Maryland. She joins ASU as an assistant professor in the Department of English.   


Lisa Barksdale-Shaw, assistant professor

Barksdale-Shaw’s work examines narratives of justice by combining several disciplines including law, literature and medicine. In her work, she foregrounds evidence and criminology, litigation practices and procedure, trial advocacy, drama, material culture, stage properties and performance, racial trauma, ethics, state actors and the history of law. She is currently working on several research projects, specifically on written evidence, conspiracy and racial trauma.

Using critical race theory, Barksdale-Shaw teaches her students how to read law, literature, culture and race as they critique narratives of justice domestically and globally.

She joins ASU from the James Madison College at Michigan State University, where she was a visiting assistant professor. She received a degree in law at the University of Michigan Law School and a PhD in English language and literature from Michigan State University. She joins ASU as an assistant professor in the Department of English.

Ruben Espinosa, associate professor and associate director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Espinosa specializes in Shakespeare and early modern literature. He is currently working on two monographs, “Shakespeare on the Border: Language, Legitimacy and La Frontera” and “Shakespeare on the Shades of Racism.”

He is the author of “Masculinity and Marian Efficacy in Shakespeare’s England” and the co-editor of “Shakespeare and Immigration.”

In addition to the books he has written, he has also published numerous essays and articles, and he serves on the editorial boards of Shakespeare Quarterly, Exemplaria: Medieval Early Modern Theory and Palgrave’s Early Modern Cultural Studies series. In 2018, he was elected to the Shakespeare Association of America’s board of trustees.

Prior to ASU he was at the University of Texas at El Paso, where he was an associate professor of English. He received a PhD in English literature and Shakespeare studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He joins ASU as an associate professor in the Department of English and associate director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Mariam Galarrita, postdoctoral fellow

Mariam Galarrita

Galarrita’s research focuses on early modern English drama and travel writing, premodern critical race studies, language and science fiction. 

She is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside and will defend her dissertation, “Early Modern England and Race-making,” this spring.

She is the founder and director of Race and the Premodern Period Speaker Series at UC Riverside.

This fall she will teach a class on Shakespeare alongside Jonathan Hope, director of literature and professor in the Department of English.

She joins ASU as a two-year postdoctoral fellow in the Department of English. 

Madeline Sayet, clinical assistant professor

Sayet is a member of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, where she was raised on a combination of traditional Mohegan stories and Shakespeare — both of which have influenced her work as a stage director of new plays, classics and opera.

For her work as a director, writer and performer she has been honored as a Forbes 30 Under 30, TED Fellow, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow, National Directing Fellow, Native American 40 Under 40 and a recipient of The White House Champion of Change Award from President Barack Obama.

Prior to ASU she served as the executive director of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program. Sayet received a bachelor’s degree in drama from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, a master’s degree in arts politics and postcolonial theory from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a master’s degree in Shakespeare and creativity from The Shakespeare Institute. She joins ASU as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of English.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences