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China successfully launches its first independent “Tianwen-1“ mission to Red Planet 

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2020)

China has successfully launched its first independent Mars mission, Tianwen-1, on a Long March 5 rocket from Hainan Island’s Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Thursday.

The Space.com reported that the Tianwen-1 consists of an orbiter and a lander/rover duo, a combination of craft that had never before launched together toward the Red Planet.

The ambition of Tianwen-1 is especially striking given that it’s China’s first stab at a full-on Mars mission. (The nation did launch a Red Planet orbiter called Yinghuo-1 in November 2011, but that launch failed, leaving the probes trapped in Earth orbit.

The probe is expected to reach the Red Planet in February 2021. 

If it succeeds, Tianwen-1 (Questions to Heaven) will be the first-ever Mars expedition to complete orbiting, landing, and roving in a single mission.

“The lander/rover pair will touch down on the Martian surface two to three months later somewhere within Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the planet’s Northern Hemisphere that also welcomed NASA’s Viking 2 Lander in 1976,” the Space.com said.

According to the report, the solar-powered rover will then spend about 90 Martian days, or sols, studying its surroundings in detail.

It comes as a week ago, the UAE launched its Mars Mission called Hope – the first attempt to go interplanetary by any Arab country. 

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UAE stops issuing visas to 13 countries

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2020)

The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A source briefed on the matter told Reuters the visas had temporarily stopped being issued to Afghans, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries over security concerns, but did not provide details of those concerns.

A document, sent to companies operating in a business park and seen by Reuters, cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18.

The document said applications for new employment and visitor visas had been suspended for nationals – those outside the UAE – of 13 countries until further notice.

The ban also applies to citizens of Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Turkey, it says.

It was not clear if there were any exceptions to the ban.

The UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

The visa ban comes two months after the Gulf state established formal ties with Israel, a move that broke with decades of Arab policy and angered some Muslim states and communities, Reuters reports.

Still, the source familiar with the matter said the ban was unrelated to the UAE’s relationship with Israel and was expected to last only for a brief period.

Last week, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the UAE had stopped processing new visas for its citizens and those of some other countries, but that those already holding valid visas were not affected and could still enter the UAE.

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Football legend Maradona dies from heart attack

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2020)

Diego Maradona has died from a heart attack less than a month after turning 60.

The Argentinian football legend died at home, his lawyer said, just three weeks after having surgery on a blood clot in his brain.

Maradona – known by millions around the world – won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986, after knocking England out of the tournament by scoring what is widely considered one of the greatest goals ever.

Regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time on the pitch, his life off the pitch was equally notorious – amid battles with drug and alcohol addiction.

Argentina’s president Alberto Fernandez decreed three days of mourning following Maradona’s death.  

“You took us to the top of the world. You made us immensely happy. You were the greatest of all,” the Argentine leader tweeted.

“Thanks for having existed, Diego. We will miss you for a lifetime.”

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Taliban kidnap over two dozen civilians in Wardak

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(Last Updated On: November 25, 2020)

Taliban insurgents have abducted at least 28 civilians in Maidan Wardak province, police claimed.

The provincial police said in a statement that the militants abducted 28 people who were traveling from Hisa-i-AwalBihsud to the capital Kabul.

The Taliban forced cars to stop in Siyah Petab and Pul-e-Mehrab areas in the Jalrez district of the province on Wednesday morning and kidnapped the civilians, police stated.

The provincial police did not provide further details about the hostages.

The Taliban has not yet commented in this regard, but the area where the incident happened is allegedly under the group’s control.

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