China has unveiled plans to build a replica of Mars on a spectacular, sandswept corner of the Tibetan plateau.
The 95,000 square-kilometre “simulated Mars station” will be built in Qinghai province’s Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan autonomous prefecture, not far from the westernmost tip of the Great Wall.
One section of the “hyper-arid” high-altitude camp will be used to train Chinese astronauts, state broadcaster CCTV reported earlier this summer.
Another part will receive tourists hungering for a taste of life on Mars. “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, according to the South China Morning Post.
Despite its isolated location, the campsite is likely to be rather more hospitable than Mars, which has an unbreathable atmosphere that contains only 0.2% oxygen.
Beijing hopes to have a permanent manned space station operating by 2022 and to send a probe to the real Mars in 2019. In 2013 China became the first country to soft land on the moon in almost four decades as part of efforts to send the first Chinese astronaut there.