Nasa-honoured Egyptian space scientist hails Hazzaa’s effort - GulfToday

Nasa-honoured Egyptian space scientist hails Hazzaa’s effort

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Dr Farouk El-Baz. File photo

Henry Jacob, Staff Reporter

“It is a wonderful feeling to witness the Space Station mission of Hazzaa Al Mansouri,” says reputed Egyptian-American space scientist and geologist Dr Farouk El-Baz. “I have heard firsthand Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the Emirates, of his interest in space missions. I also know of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, regarding his vision of the UAE contributing to space missions. In addition I also know of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah’s  interest in applying space knowledge to improving knowledge of our resources.

“All of the leaders of the UAE are behind that historic mission.”

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Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazzaa AlMansoori speak to the media.


Interestingly, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has named a newly discovered asteroid after Dr El-Baz, according to a report in an Egyptian news website. The asteroid, called El Baz, honours the pioneering achievements of the famed space scientist.

Dr El-Baz was caught unawares by the honour. “Yes the naming of an asteroid was an incredible surprise and a very great honour indeed.

It was done by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which is the only organisation charged with the naming of plants and planetary features. The IAU informed Nasa formally as it is the agency that produces maps of approved names of planets and planetary features.”

Dr Farouk El-Baz was Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University. He retired this year and left the directorship of the centre to one of his students. He is Adjunct Professor of Geology at the Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.

“Hazzaa is himself a fine jet pilot,” adds Dr El-Baz. “His mission will be a landmark one in the annals of the modern Arab world. I know that he will do a fine job representing the youth of the UAE and the rest of the Arab world.

“I wish him a highly successful and enjoyable mission.”

It is noteworthy that Dr El-Baz helped Nasa plan and identify the Moon landing location for Apollo 11. He trained Apollo astronauts in the important skills of visual observation and space photography. He was the brainchild behind touchable moon rocks at a museum, after he was inspired by his childhood pilgrimage to Makkah where he touched the Kaaba.

Dr El-Baz is also a leading specialist in the study of deserts and how to find and sustain water in such environments in the Arab world.