See two Mars moons shine over Dubai as the UAE's Hope probe arrives at Red Planet

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.

Video: UAE Hope Mars mission projection lights up world's tallest building
The United Arab Emirates' Hope mission to Mars in photos 

Projections of Mars' moons Phobos and Deimos shine in the night sky over Dubai to celebrate the Hope mission's arrival at the Red Planet. (Image credit: UAE Space Agency)
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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).

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: