Hundreds of Travelers Have Mars Stamps in their Passports

Until Elon Musk pulls his act together and, to paraphrase Total Recall, takes our collective asses to Mars, you are unlikely to pick up official Mars stamps in your passport. A rare exception to this rule occurred this week. Passengers arriving in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were given a special limited-edition stamp in “Mars ink,” made from the same type of volcanic basalt rock that gives Mars its recognizable rusty color.

This stamp was intended to celebrate the arrival of the UAE’s Mars mission to the red planet on February 9th. The spacecraft, named Hope, was launched on a Japanese H-IIA rocket in July 2020 and has spent the next seven months en route to Mars. This week it finally reached Mars orbit. Hope is the UAE’s first interplanetary mission, the result of decades of work. It is used to get a complete picture of the atmosphere on Mars.

The memorial stamp for the passengers reads: “You have arrived in the Emirates. The Emirates will arrive on Mars on February 9th, 2021. “(Note: The UAE, unlike the US, uses the day-month-year-date notation.)

UAE Government Media Office

“What makes it so special is that we really thought about the connection between Mars and Earth and realized that right here in the rugged UAE mountain ranges, we have the same basalt rocks that are found on Mars,” said Khaled al-Shehhi, executive director The director of marketing and communications for the UAE government’s media office told Digital Trends.

These rocks from the UAE’s eastern Al Hajar Mountains and the Mleiha Desert were collected by geologists in the region. They were then crushed into a paste, dried in the sun, and mixed with glue to create three different colors that represent Mars. These then became the special Mars ink that was used to stamp passports to welcome people to the UAE.

Given that the pandemic is currently preventing many international travel, it’s likely far fewer people received the unique stamp on Tuesday. Al-Shehhi was unable to confirm the exact number of recipients, but noted that on any given day “generally thousands of passengers pass through Dubai Airport”. Nonetheless, “it is a limited edition stamp, so those who received one are very lucky.”

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