Other countries other manners.

This also seems to apply to the behavior of aerospace engineers who have just succeeded in a critical maneuver.

No wild hugging by the bystanders was to be expected in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in Dubai when the signal arrived on Tuesday evening last week that the probe "Al-Amal" (Hope) had successfully swung into orbit around the Mars reported.

Such things were not only prohibited here for Corona reasons, but also because a good third of the workforce was female.

Even at this special moment for the nation, an indiscriminate heart among colleagues was nothing that would have been considered appropriate in the Gulf state - even if the responsible ministry is headed by a 34-year-old computer scientist.

Ulf von Rauchhaupt

Responsible for the “Science” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

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Instead, there was applause and then reverently the words of His Highness Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who had hurried into the control room. The ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates ordered this first mission from an Islamic country to the Red Planet six years ago to mark the 50th anniversary of the merger of the Emirates in 1971. With a view to a post-oil era, he wants to introduce his country as a future technology nation. Even if the full functionality of the probe will only prove to be in the next few days, weeks and months, the sign is set - and that was also celebrated on Tuesday: A monumental laser show with Martian themes spilled over the facade of the super skyscraper Burj Khalifa in the center of Dubai,and the English-language state broadcaster “Dubai One” accompanied the arrival of the probe with a two-hour live show. After all: after Russians, Americans, Europeans and Indians, the Emiratis are now the fifth power to have succeeded in bringing a probe into Mars orbit.

No party for the "question of heaven"

Number six followed the next day, Wednesday.

The main engine of the Chinese “Tianwen-1” space probe ignited at 12:52 p.m. Central European time, and at 2 p.m. the frequency shift of its radio signal indicated that the mission from China had also entered a Mars orbit.

That had happened eleven minutes earlier, because that's how long it takes radio waves to travel the 192 million kilometers that currently separate Mars from Earth.

Due to this time difference, maneuvers by Mars probes cannot be controlled directly from Earth, but must be programmed in advance or controlled autonomously by the on-board computer. This is one of the difficulties that make Mars missions far more complex than those in Earth orbit and that require a certain amount of space experience and technical skill from those who undertake them. Even if the Chinese achieved an important success in 2018 with the first ever landing of a mobile probe, a so-called rover, on the far side of the moon, it was a success on Mars - where around half of all probes sent there have been in one or the other other form has failed - by no means guaranteed. One would think that people were cheering loudly in Beijing too.

Not even close.

Tianwen - the name means something like "question of heaven" and alludes to an ancient Chinese poem - was neither the subject of a national party nor a live show.

The China National Space Administration also did not host a television broadcast, not even a press conference.

Only a few thin reports were issued, as well as a black-and-white image of Mars taken on February 5th, and the success was only confirmed in retrospect.

The world public was first able to find out that the probe had managed the swivel-in maneuver from radio amateurs, who followed the vehicle's signal and deduced its maneuvers based on the so-called Doppler effect from frequency changes.