ILLUSTRATION BY STUART FUNK
A trio of missions is scheduled to arrive at the Red Planet this month: the United Arab Emirates’ Hope, the United States’ Perseverance, and China’s Tianwen-1 (which translates to “heavenly questions”). Together, the names of these missions show the poetry of space exploration. It is with hope empowered by humanity’s perseverance and ingenuity that we are pursuing answers to heavenly questions.
While the probes aren’t visible to us, you can at least make out where they’re headed in mid-February by looking for an arc of almost evenly spaced reddish lights: the stars Aldebaran and Betelgeuse (in the middle) and their ultimate destination Mars (to the west).
Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory astronomer Eric McLaughlin spotlights a notable celestial event each month. For information about the observatory, visit ranchomiragelibrary.org.