JINCHANG: In the middle of China’s Gobi desert sits a Mars base simulator, but instead of housing astronauts training to live on the Red Planet, the facility is full of teenagers on a school trip, reports AFP.
Surrounded by barren hills in northwestern Gansu province, “Mars Base 1” opened on Wednesday with the aim of exposing teens—and soon tourists—to what life could be like on the planet.The facility’s unveiling comes as China is making progress in its efforts to catch up to the United States and become a space power, with ambitions of sending humans to the moon someday.
The white-coloured base has a silver dome and nine modules, including living quarters, a control room, a greenhouse and an airlock.
Built at a cost of 50 million yuan ($7.47 million), the base was constructed with help from the Astronauts Centre of China and the China Intercontinental Communication Centre, a state television production organisation.
The teenagers go on treks in the desert, where they explore caves in the martian-like landscape. The closest town is Jinchang, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) away.
On Wednesday, over 100 students from a nearby high school walked on the arid Gobi plains, dressed in spacesuit-esque tracksuits.
“There are so many things here that I’ve not seen before, I’m very interested in it,” said 12-year old Tang Ruitian.