Culture 3 min read

China Unveils Massive Mars Simulation Camp

Scientists and tourists alike can now experience what it is like to be on Mars thanks to the Mars simulation camp China has just opened.

Image via Weibo

Image via Weibo

Budweiser is planning to brew beer on Mars, but no one really knows the effects of alcohol in zero gravity.

Getting drunk is maybe one aspect of life on Mars that future settlers need to prep for here on Earth before heading to the Red Planet.

CEO Elon Musk plans to colonize and terraform Mars using rockets and nuclear bombs, although using nukes on the Martian surface could be a bad idea. SpaceX puts its focus more on how to get to Mars than how to live once there.

Soon, astronauts will have a chance to stand on the Martian soil. Well, almost.

China’s Mars Simulation Camp

A real mission to Mars comes with serious mental and physical challenges that astronauts had better prep for. And now, they have a place where they can test their gear and different procedures.

Ahead of its unmanned Mars mission scheduled next year, China has launched a Mars simulation facility that opened its doors to researchers and tourists on April 17.

Against a barren backdrop in the Chinese Gobi desert lies the Mars Base 1 Camp, as it’s called, exuding with Martian atmosphere.

Covering 80 acres, the base is located in desolate hills in the Gansu province, a region Gao Junling, the camp manager, calls “the place on Earth that is most unlike being on Earth”.

So the awe factor and suspension of disbelief are pretty much guaranteed.

As reported by Reuters, a group of 100 Chinese teens got to experience this first hand in a 5-hour tour in the base that comprises “several interconnected modules including a greenhouse and a mock decompression chamber.”

“I am very excited to be here,” said one of the teenagers visiting the facility. “We saw the monolith, a crater and a cave. It’s better than the Mars that I had imagined.”

Aside from scientific research, authorities want to make the site a tourist attraction to boost the local tourism industry. Thanks to a $374-million plan, the site will expand to 67 sq km, with an aim to attract 2 million visitors a year by 2030.

Read More: Scientists Are Trying To Grow Grapes On Mars

This Mars simulation base is co-developed by Jinchang Star Universe Culture & Tourism Investment Co, a media company whose CEO Bai Fan thinks the facility will inspire people.

“A nation needs people who look up at the stars. We hope the bases will let them feel the spirit of space exploration, and not just experience the technology behind it.”

There are also plans to turn the camp into a training center for astronauts following a collaboration with the Astronauts Center of China (ACC).

China is imitating NASA that has also used desert environments to run Mars test experiments. Yale researchers went to the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the driest places on the planet, in preparation for a rover launch mission next year.

Read More: Who Will Have the First Successful Manned Mission to Mars?

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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