A “village” that simulates environmental conditions on Mars is now under construction in China.
With a 400-million-yuan ($61 million) budget, the project is part of the country’s preparation for its Mars exploration plans set in 2020.
The so-called “Mars Village,” consisting of a simulation base and an ecotourism site, will be built in Qinghai Province, northwestern China.
According to Xinhua, the village will be constructed on what has been dubbed as “the most Martian” place on Earth — in the red rock area of the Qaidam basin in western Qinghai.
It will feature a “Mars community,” which will function as a theme park, and a “Mars campsite,” which will be equipped with living accommodations for those who want to experience life on the red planet.
“As China’s only Mars science and recreation base, we hope to focus on the science of space exploration,” Liu Xiaoqun, director of lunar and deep space exploration at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times.
Liu said that the base will be a one-stop site for studying aerospace, astronomy, geography and new energy.
According to the South China Morning Post, the project kicked off in November when the government of Qinghai’s Haixi prefecture allowed the Chinese Academy of Sciences to use its land.
“The construction of the simulated Mars base has important scientific and ecological significance,” Zhang Biao, deputy mayor of Delingha, which hosts the project, said. “It not only allows people to learn more about Mars and space exploration, but will also benefit economic development in the area.”
The village is expected to be completed before 2020, when China plans to launch its first Mars probe. Until then, those who want to experience Martian living will have to wait.
“People dream about migrating to Mars, so what we want to do is give people a high-end experience of what it would actually be like to live in outer space,” Liu said.
Watch an aerial view of the site: