The two moons of Mars were projected above the skies of Dubai to celebrate the first Emirati mission to the Red Planet.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) did the campaign, hoping it would go viral, to generate excitement about the Hope mission to investigate the mysterious atmosphere of Mars. Hope arrived in orbit around Mars Tuesday (Feb. 9).
Images of the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos were projected just hours before the Hope probe began a 27-minute Mars orbit-insertion maneuver to reach its planetary destination.
“To celebrate this historic achievement, and the great work of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, Dubai has been treated to the spectacle of a ‘double moon’ — replicating what can be seen from the surface of Mars — beamed across the UAE desert skies,” the government said in a statement.
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Footage released to the media shows the campaign being set up in the desert. How the projection was accomplished isn’t clear in the video, but you can see an image of the Martian moons being suspended on cranes, along with nearby lights that presumably were involved in beaming the image into the sky.
While visitors to the region are limited due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those who do pass through immigration today will have their passport stamped with ink made from basalt stone, the UAE government added. Basalt is found in both the UAE and Mars and the ink was “gathered and created for this grand occasion,” the statement said.
Multiple monuments were also lit up in red, the color of Mars, around the United Arab Emirates, BBC correspondent Jonathan Amos said in a tweet Tuesday (Feb. 9). “It’s sure to be a nerve-wracking day but I can’t wait,” he added.
Hope is meant to inspire Emirati youth and also to encourage the country at large as it attempts to move into new, environmentally friendly industries, after growing richer in past decades due to oil.
The mission took off in July 2020 and is just one of three set to arrive at Mars this month, along with the Tianwen-1 mission from China Wednesday (Feb. 10) and the NASA Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter (Feb. 18).
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.