China Creating a Mars Space Base in the Gobi Desert




The Hongya, or Red Cliff, an area in the Gobi Desert rarely traversed by humans, will be the site of China’s groundbreaking Mars exploration base. More than 3,000 meters above sea level, in the Qaidam Basin, Hongya resembles the red planet’s landscape where illions of years of wind erosion have chiseled out pillars of sand, known as yardang — a Uyghur word meaning “steep-walled hillock.”

In 2016, the Chinese government announced plans to launch an unmanned Mars mission in 2020, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) started looking for a place to build a research base for the expedition. Liu Xiaoqun, director of the Moon and Space Exploration Department at CAS, and his team, scouted it as a potential site for the base.



"The local tourism industry has already come up with a blueprint for the area, including an information center where visitors will board shuttles to the base itself,"said Liu."There, tourists will be able to experience what life would be like on Mars, such as living in space station cabins and traversing the red landscape. In the meantime, researchers at the base will carry out studies, simulations, and experiments in preparation for future expeditions to the planet."

Construction of the Mars exploration base will begin next April, and the facility is set to be completed by October 2018, according to a spokesperson.

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The Daily Galaxy via CAS and SixthTone

Image top of page from The Martian 



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