10 fascinating space-themed displays at Expo 2020 Dubai

From Moon rock samples to robotic arms that will drill on Mars – the World Fair will offer up some 'out of this world' experiences

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In the past, world expos served as a platform for countries to display their achievements in space, and Expo 2020 Dubai will be no different.

Several pavilions, including the US, Italy and Russia, have space-themed shows.

The Mobility Pavilion will celebrate the UAE’s achievements in space with a Mars corridor that will show the nation’s journey to the Red Planet.

Earlier expos had national pavilions with a focus on space exploration.

In 1970, the US displayed Moon rocks brought back from the Apollo 12 mission at the Osaka Expo, Japan's first.

The samples were 3.2 billion years old and were buried under the Moon's surface until a meteorite impact 15 million years ago exposed them.

The pavilion also had a full-scale replica of the Apollo 11 landing site, a lunar module, with two space-suited hosts greeting visitors.

The National highlights some of the most fascinating space-themed displays awaiting visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai.

SpaceX rocket model

The US pavilion will have an enormous SpaceX rocket model on display during the world fair.

Standing at 43 metres-tall, the replica is of a Falcon 9 booster.

A replica of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket outside the USA Pavilion at EXPO 2020 site. (Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

A replica of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Dubai Expo's US pavilion. Reem Mohammed / The National 

US space agency Nasa can launch astronauts from Florida again by using SpaceX rockets. So far, three missions – a test flight, Crew 1 and Crew 2 – have successfully gone to the International Space Station using a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

The mock-up will be one of many other space-themed displays at the US pavilion that will celebrate the nation’s space achievements.

Moon rocks

Visitors to the US pavilion will also be able to see Moon rock samples brought back by Apollo missions.

Nasa is the only space agency that has landed astronauts on the Moon and it aims to return humans to the surface within this decade.

However, lunar samples have been retrieved by other space agencies through robotic missions, including those by the former Soviet Union and, more recently, by China.

Chess set from space

A chess set that was carried into space on the Soyuz 3 and Soyuz 4 spacecraft from 1968 and 1969 will be on show at the Expo.

Visitors will see the unique design of the board, including the pegs and grooves that helped keep the pieces still in zero-gravity.

Chess is a common pastime for Russian cosmonauts in orbit. Last year, two cosmonauts played a game against a grandmaster on Earth.

The Mars corridor

To celebrate Emirati achievements in space, a Mars corridor in the Mobility Pavilion will explain the journey of the Hope probe to the Red Planet.

Hope reached Mars in February and is orbiting the planet, gathering scientific data on the upper and lower atmosphere.

Visitors will be able to see the data that is received from the spacecraft.

Other interactive displays in the corridor would allow space enthusiasts and students to develop spaceship plans.

Replica of Mars rover

The US pavilion will also display a replica of one of its Mars rovers, although it is not yet known which one.

Nasa landed its most advanced and expensive Mars mission, Perseverance, on the surface of the planet this year.

The $2.2 billion mission involves a high-tech rover that has been vaporising Mars rocks with laser beams to study samples.

Ingenuity, the first helicopter on another planet, hitched a ride on the rover and has accomplished several flights.

First satellite in space

The Russian pavilion will also celebrate the country’s space history.

There will be a display of a replica of the first satellite in space, Sputnik, launched by the former Soviet Union.

Russia has several space achievements to its name and its pavilion at the Expo could be likely to include other space-themed displays.

The USSR was also responsible for sending the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space in 1961.

Robotic arm

Rendering of Italian pavilion at Expo 2020. Courtesy: Italy Expo 2020
Rendering of Italian pavilion at Expo 2020. Courtesy: Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

A robotic arm that will dig through the Martian soil will be on display at the Italian pavilion.

The space drill is part of the ExoMars 2022 mission, which will be launched next year.

Manufactured by Italian aerospace company Leonardo, the drill will be on board the Rosalind Franklin rover and will be capable of drilling down as far as two metres into the surface of the Red Planet.

It is part of a joint mission by Russia's Roscosmos and the European Space Agency.

Space show at Al Wasl Dome

The world’s largest 360° projection screen at the expo site, Al Wasl Dome, will feature a space-themed show.

It is not yet clear what that will include, but a sneak peek this year showed rockets, Emirati astronauts, satellites and other spacecraft.

Visits from astronauts

Emirati astronauts will be visiting the Expo site.

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet also hinted that he could also be involved with the Expo. Yesterday, he tweeted a photo of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah to mark the 100-day countdown of the grand show.

Space week at Expo

There will be a week dedicated to space during the Expo from October 5 to October 6. It will be one of the 10 thematic weeks.

The virtual space event will highlight some of the brightest stars in space exploration.

Speakers will include Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of the UAE Space Agency.

Nasa’s chief scientist James L Green will also speak during the space week.

Expo 2020 Dubai pavilions - in pictures