The changing face of Arabian dust storms
01 June 2023
Published online 26 July 2022
The photographic atlas helps broaden understanding of the planet in one of the world’s most spoken languages.
A team at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) has released a new Mars atlas in Arabic, two years after the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission’s (EMM) Hope (also Al-Amal) Probe. The Mars Atlas Project uses data exclusively derived from the probe and aims to make the mission’s findings more accessible to Arabic speakers.
“Historically, the Arab world was known for advancements in astronomy. Many of the stars and astronomical terms we use today are either Arabic names or have roots in the language,” says the team’s lead, Dimitra Atri, head of the Mars Research Group at NYUAD’s Center for Space Science. “Hope is a pioneer mission of the Arab world and it is very important for me as a scientist and a resident of the UAE to make its discoveries accessible to the 400 million Arabic speakers in the UAE and around the world."
The atlas combines different images produced from observational data obtained by Hope’s eXploration Imager, one of three instruments aboard the orbiter, to map out the planet’s surface. The team’s goal is to demonstrate how the entire planet changes during the day and across seasons over the course of a Martian year, which is roughly equivalent to two Earth years.
The atlas, also available in English, contains dozens of striking images, along with maps and straightforward explanations about impact craters, different regions of the Martian surface and the scientific instruments used to collect data. It will be updated periodically as more data from the Hope probe becomes available.
The EMM, the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission, launched Hope in July 2020 from Japan. It entered Mars’s orbit seven months later in February 2021. The data collected by the probe will improve understanding of Mars’s atmosphere and climate. The probe will continue its scientific mission until mid-2023, with the possibility of extending it an additional Martian year.
Mohamed El-maarry, associate professor and director of Khalifa University’s Space and Planetary Science Center, says many regions and features on the surface of Mars are given names from different cultures and languages, including Arabic; a notable example being the Arabia Terra region. “An all-Arabic atlas of Mars could facilitate public engagement with the mission and increase their enthusiasm to learn more about it, as well as Mars itself,” he adds.
Aquib Moin, associate professor of physics at United Arab Emirates University, says an Arabic language atlas will help more people develop an appreciation of the value of astronomy and space discoveries as they will be able to better understand the information in their native language.