Inside China’s $61 Million Mars Simulation Base in the Gobi Desert
A state-of-the-art “Mars simulation base” that will serve as “part research facility and part tourist attraction” has been unveiled in China.
Built in a remote section of the arid Gobi desert, the $61 million site features living accommodation designed to simulate how humans would be living on the surface of the planet Mars.
The base was created as part of the “C Space Plan,” a space education project for Chinese teenagers, as the government hopes of inspiring the country’s next generation of astronauts. It aims to serve primarily as a tourist attraction and as a facility for some small research experiments on Mars.
According to CGTN, the facility is China’s first cultural and tourist experience base for space education, Mars-themed tourism, scientific research, and film shooting.
The site, which is reportedly located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) outside the city of Jincheng, was chosen as an ideal setting for Mars simulations as it already has “distinctive red and rocky landform.” The facility has a spacious Mars-themed tourist attraction and a simulated space exploration camp which will allow the general public to experience what life would be like on the planet.
“[The base] has several sections. It can tell us how to survive in a severe environment when we arrive at Mars,” the site spokesperson Tian Rusen was quoted as saying.
He added that visitors will answer “questions such as where we can stay, where we can do scientific experiments to serve the globe and which experiments are more valuable.”
The site features nine cabins which include living quarters, an airlock room and a mission control center. Similar modules could be used someday by China’s future Mars colonies. There is also an area where the visitors can experience a trip on the “Martian surface” while wearing prop spacesuits.
“The base provides teenagers a chance to experience what it’s like to live on Mars and learn how technology leads society forward,” Tian said.
While the base opened its doors for media previews during its launch last week, it is still unclear when it will be officially open to the public.
Officials in Beijing have previously announced plans to launch an unmanned probe to the red planet by 2020.Revealed last year, the mission aims to pave the way for a “robotic and human settlement” on the planet.