Ancient Moon rock and Mars meteorite part of Expo 2020 Dubai's stunning space show

‘The greatest show on Earth’ is set to make a cosmic impression with astronaut appearances and rare space objects on display

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Visitors who boldly go to the international pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai will see fascinating space objects such as Moon rocks and Martian meteorites.

As a new era of space exploration gathers momentum, many countries will use the global platform of the world's fair to highlight their stellar achievements.

France, the US, Russia and host nation the UAE are among the participants sharing a treasure trove of items brought back to Earth.

The six-month extravaganza will get under way on October 1, with millions of visitors expected from all around the world.

The National highlights some of the most interesting space shows visitors can experience during the world fair.

Marvel at the Moon at US pavilion

One of the largest Moon rock samples collected during the Apollo missions is going on display.

The mare basalt is estimated to be about 3.75 billion years old and is older than nearly all Earth surface rocks.

“Visitors will get up close to an actual lunar sample. American astronaut Jack Schmitt collected it near the lunar module landing site on Apollo 17. It is one of the largest samples brought back from the Moon,” Matthew Asada, deputy commissioner general for the USA Pavilion, told The National.

“The USA Pavilion’s theme ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of the Future’ is strongly linked to US achievements in space.

“One of the exhibition’s star attractions is an eight-minute immersive media show which explores the future of America’s technological advances in the current century and beyond.

“This experience touches on the biggest and boldest ideas that the United States has to offer and presents the cutting edge of what’s possible – from the democratisation of space to quantum computing and more.”

A Martian meteorite sample found during the 2012-2013 season in Antarctica will also be on display.

Other highlights include a model of the Mars Opportunity Rover, which landed on the planet on 2004 and “died” in 2018 because of a dust storm.

Visitors will also be able to see a live feed transmitted from the Mars Perseverance rover – one of Nasa’s most expensive and ambitious Mars missions to date.

“And finally, as visitors exit the Pavilion, they will be greeted by the tallest structure on the Expo 2020 site by an international participant – a 43-metre SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket,” Mr Asada said.

“Standing tall as an example of sustainability in action, Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket, allowing the most expensive parts to be re-employed, bringing down the cost of space travel considerably.”

The US has a history of celebrating its achievements in space during world's fairs.

The Seattle Space Needle in the US state of Washington was built for the 1962 expo, which had ‘The Age of Space’ theme.

At the 1964 world's fair in New York City, the United States Space Park featured rockets and spacecraft.

French astronaut calls in from space

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will speak to visitors at the Al Wasl Plaza in October during a live call from the International Space Station.

Mr Pesquet flew to the space station on April 23 aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon and became the first French commander of the ISS.

He has gathered a large following on social media with his remarkable images of Earth.

Erik Linquier, commissioner general for France at Expo 2020 Dubai, told The National that the astronaut will visit the event in person in 2022.

“He’s at the ISS right now but he will be present in the pavilion, probably in January or February,” he said.

A ‘travel to Mars’ feature will be part of the French Pavilion’s main exhibition, where visitors will be transported virtually to the Red Planet through interactive displays.

From October 20-23, visitors will be able to observe colourful galaxies and nebulae with an advanced telescope made available at the French Pavilion by Unistellar.

“Space is really important because for us it's clearly linked with the main theme of Expo, when you talk about smart and sustainable cities,” Mr Linquier said.

“A large part of information and actions that will be used to reach the Sustainable Development Goals go through space, whether it is meteorological, geographical or geological information, geographical or geological information.”

Russia's star showing

The trailer of a commercial Russian movie being filmed on the ISS from October 5 to October 17 will be revealed at the Russian pavilion.

The film, titled The Challenge, follows the story of a Russian doctor who is sent to the space station to save the life of a cosmonaut.

Russian actress Yulia Peresild and award-winning director Klim Shipenko will fly into space for the movie.

“They have been preparing since May, undertaking intensive training and preparing for the flight,” Yekaterina Pribytkova, director of international communications at the Russian Pavilion, told The National.

“The movie, in my opinion, represents both characters’ story, as well as the challenges the actress would possibly face while filming in space.

“And, most importantly, it shows Russia’s innovations in space.”

The former Soviet Union has a long history of presenting its space achievements during expos, around the same time when the first space era took off.

At the 1958 expo in Brussels, the USSR displayed models of two satellites that were launched two months before the world fair.

A special display celebrating Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly into space, was shown at the 1961 expo in Turin, Italy.

UAE celebrates historic exploits

Some of the UAE’s greatest achievements in space will be celebrated at the national pavilion.

These include sending the first Emirati astronaut, Hazza Al Mansouri, to the ISS, launching the first Arab mission to Mars, building the first lunar rover and selection of the first Arab female astronaut.

A space-themed show at the Al Wasl Dome will highlight UAE’s progress in space in colourful projections.

Space Week at Expo 2020

Space will be one of the thematic weeks at the expo.

From October 17-23, astronauts, policymakers, scientists and other leaders in space will gather to discuss progress being made in the field.

The event will take place before the International Astronautical Congress – the world’s largest space conference – at the World Trade Centre from October 25-29.

Sarah Al Amiri, the Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairperson of the UAE Space Agency, will attend the space week. Shelli Brunswick, chief operating officer of the Space Foundation, will also be speaking.

Behind-the-scenes of Expo 2020 Dubai's opening ceremony - in pictures

Updated: September 20, 2021, 8:08 AM