Future astronauts got a taste of what it is like to live in Mars in a simulated base camp located in the Gobi desert in China.
A company called C-Space recently opened "Mars Base 1," a $4.47 million facility that recreates a Martian base camp where future colonists will live and work when humans eventually land on the Red Planet. The facility was opened to the public for the first time on Wednesday, April 17, to students who would like to learn more about Earth's neighboring planet.
China's Mars Base 1
Mars Base 1 has nine interconnected modules that offer a look at what the first Martian colony would look like. It has sleeping quarters, a recreation room, a greenhouse, a control room, and an airlock open for viewing.
Students can wear spacesuits and explore the mock Martian landscape. Around the base, the company placed recreations of rovers, landers, a spacecraft, a crater, and a cave. A mysterious black slab, a callback to the monolith that appeared in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, stands in the middle of the desert.
"I am very excited to be here," said a 13-year-old student who was among the first to explore Mars Base 1. "We saw the monolith, a crater and a cave. It's better than the Mars that I had imagined."
Over 100 students from a nearby high school attended the opening of the facility. The company will also expand and open Mars Base 1 to tourists starting next year. A space-themed hotel and restaurant will also be built in the area.
However, Mars Base 1 has received criticism from a few scientists. Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Peking University, told AFP that the surrounding desert does not represent the hostile conditions of Mars.
Unlike Earth, which is mostly covered with liquid water, Mars is very dry and dusty. Jiao added that to recreate what it will be like to live in the Red Planet would be very "expensive."
"We are trying to come up with solutions ... the base is still on earth, it's not on Mars," stated Bai Fan, the founder of C-Span. "[B]ut we have chosen a landform that matches closest to Mars."
Last month, a "Mars village" was also opened in the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai.