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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Mars to shine bright in the night sky as it lines up with the Moon

The celestial event on Thursday takes place hours before Nasa’s Perseverance rover will attempt a landing on the Red Planet

Hope probe’s first image of Mars. Emirates Mars Mission/EXI 2021
Hope probe’s first image of Mars. Emirates Mars Mission/EXI 2021

Mars will be visible from anywhere in the night sky on Thursday as it passes close to the Moon.

The Red Planet will look like a rust-coloured star, just above the Moon, as they line up in conjunction.

The celestial event is taking place only hours before Nasa’s Perseverance rover will attempt a perilous landing on Mars, becoming the latest mission to explore the Red Planet.

Mars will be visible from 6.31pm in the UAE, in the western horizon, according to Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory.

At that point it will be 199 million kilometers from Earth, which is about 11 light minutes away, meaning anyone looking up at it will be seeing it as it was 11 minutes previously.

Experts said the Moon will be about 42 per cent lit, so Mars should shine bright enough to see without a telescope.

A few hours later, Perseverance will attempt to touch down on Mars’s Jezero Crater, which features steep cliffs, sand dunes and boulder fields.

Nasa will live-stream the event, with coverage starting from 11.15pm UAE time, although touchdown will take place at 12.55am early on Friday.

If successful, Perseverance will search the ancient area of Mars for evidence of past life, helping to pave the way for future human exploration and even colonisation.

It follows two other successful missions by the UAE and China to explore Mars’s atmosphere.

The Emirates made history on February 9 after its Hope probe successfully entered the Red Planet’s orbit.

Hours later, China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft followed suit.

The orbit-rover, Tianwen-1, will attempt to touch down in May for a 90-day exploration, studying the planet’s soil and rock composition and search for signs of buried water ice.

The Hope probe, a weather satellite, will study Mars’s atmosphere and the seasons of its 687-day year.

In a message on Twitter, when Hope successfully entered Mars’s orbit, Nasa congratulated the Emirati team on its success by quoting the 10th century Iraqi poet, Al Mutanabbi.

"Dear Hope Mars Mission, congratulations on arriving at Mars! In the words of the poet Al Mutanabbi: "If you ventured in pursuit of glory, don’t be satisfied with less than the stars."

UAE's Hope probe to explore

mysteries of Mars:

Updated: February 18, 2021 09:42 AM

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