Dubai is preparing for the launch of its new Dh50m astronomy observatory which will have a special focus on the planet Mars.

Opening in September ahead of an official grand launch in December, the Al Thuraya Astronomy Center will offer a telescope with a one-metre diameter mirror, classrooms and labs, and a 100-seat theatre among other features.

The building located in Al Mushrif Park will also have landscaped gardens in the shapes of constellations.

The Dubai Astronomy Group currently has 7,000 general members and is in the process of recruiting 40 new employees for the centre, which plans to educate the public on the Mars 2117 Project—a national plan to build a city on Mars in one hundred years.

“Thuraya will be a place where everyone to come and meet together,” said Hasan Al Hariri, the centre’s director and chief executive of the Dubai Astronomy Group.

“It’s going to have lots of places where people come and enjoy themselves and create a road map to Mars.

“Our Sheikh Mohammed has given us the mandate to go to Mars 2117 to build a Mars city so we want to pave the road for that.

“Our Sheikh Mohammed, he is a very visionary man and when he says something like that it means we have to develop ourselves, we have to come up to do something which is beyond normal people. We have to go to Mars.”

Mr Al Hariri envisions a Mars camp at the observatory that simulates life on the Red Planet.

“We want to give people the chance to live on Mars. They will have no atmosphere, they will have no food, they will have no soil. They will have to prepare everything for themselves,” he continued.

Meanwhile, planning has already begun on the Marmoun Astronomy Resort, a dark sky reserve 40 km away from the city so that tourists and researchers can observe the skies in complete darkness.

“We want to make it an astronomy resort so people can come throughout the year and enjoy the beautiful sky,” Mr Al Hariri said.

“We are anticipating my 2018 we will have this available. At the moment it’s on the drawing board in collaboration with the municipality. We hope that to finalise it this year so we can start construction early next year.”

Written by: Anna Zacharias

Source: The National

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