China has announced an incredible 400-million-yuan (61 million US dollars) project to create a copy of the Red Planet on its Tibetan plateau.

This “Simulated Mars station” will be spread over an area of about 95,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in Mongol-Tibetan Autonomous district of Haixi in Qinghai Province. A drive from Beijing capital international airport to Mars station will take about 7 hours to complete.

China is working hard to be a space superpower

China wants to become a space superpower and therefore has been spending huge money on space research.

NASA blocked China’s entry in the International Space Station in 2011, forcing China to speed up its space research to establish its station in space. Last year, the country announced a five-year plan with an aim to land two probes on the surface of the moon by the end of 2018. Sending an unmanned mission to Mars by 2020 is also a part of China’s five-year plan. In April this year, Chinese space agency said that they have partnered with the European Space Agency to establish a base on the moon.

Qinghai province is a red, rocky desert area, sometimes described by Chinese scientists as “the most Martian place on Earth.” The landscape, natural features, and climate of this area are very much similar to those present on Mars.

Mars simulation base will have different sections

Liu Xiaoqun from the Chinese Academy Of Sciences (CAS) revealed that a meeting was held on Tuesday to chalk out a plan for the development of the Mars simulation base. The agreement between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the government of Haixi was signed last year for creating the Simulated Mars station.

According to Liu, this base will be constructed as a one-stop base for learning in aerospace, geography, and astronomy. It will have both ecological and scientific significance and will help improve awareness among the public about space exploration. It is also expected to bring economic benefits to the people of Haixi region.

The main features of this “Mars Village” will include hiking trails, a Mars-themed amusement park and zero gravity experience for the visitors. The station will have different sections to be used for various purposes. One section of this cold, dry Mars replica will be reserved for the training of Chinese taikonauts (astronauts). A special section will also be created for tourists eager to experience what it feels like living on Mars. These tourists will spend some of their time in “module-like accommodations.”

Chinese official expects this Mars base to be completed before 2020.