China has far-reaching future goals of sending humans to Mars one day, so in anticipation, they’ve created a Red Planet of sorts in their own backyard with a brand-new “martian” base.
Aimed to expose teens to what life would be like on Mars, “Mars Base 1” opened in the Gobi Desert on Wednesday, AFP reported. The $7.47 million-dollar base was designed with help from the Astronauts Centre of China and the China Intercontinental Communication Centre.
Deep in the Desert
The base is white with a silver dome and nine modules including a control room, an airlock, living quarters, and a greenhouse.
Teens get to have a taste of what living on Mars might be like by living here and wearing spacesuit-like tracksuits to go on trips out into the Gobi Desert to explore caves in the area’s “martian-like” terrain. Fortunately, the closest town is 25 miles away, and not much else is in the vicinity, so it’s easy to replicate Mars aesthetics.
They have plans of making the base a tourist attraction by building a themed hotel and restaurant on the site and opening it up to space-obsessed tourists.
“We are trying to come up with solutions … the base is still on Earth, it’s not on Mars, but we have chosen a landform that matches closest to Mars,” C-Space founder Bai Fan told AFP.
However, not all members of China’s scientific community support this endeavor, like Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Peking University in China, for example.
“To truly replicate the harsh, toxic conditions of Mars would be to create a truly hostile environment, which is expensive and ‘completely unnecessary.’ From the very beginning, I’ve been opposed to this,” he told AFP. “Tourism doesn’t make much sense … what is the meaning in it?”
China accomplished its first touchdown on the “dark side” of the moon earlier in the year, placing on its surface a robotic probe with a panoramic camera, a ground-penetrating radar, imaging spectrometers, and an energetic neutral atom analyzer to study how solar wind might impact the moon’s surface.
With the probe, called Chang’e-4, scientists hope to learn much more about this side of the moon as well as how lunar water is formed.