Arab orbiter closes in on Mars on historic flight

Spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates was sent to 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.

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The orbiter, named Amal, Arabic for Hope, traveled 300 million miles in 7 months to get to Mars to  map its atmosphere throughout each season.

A combination orbiter and lander from China is close behind, scheduled to reach Mars 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.

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