Dubai is bringing Mars to Earth with a 1.9 million square foot Martian city
While Elon Musk is busy putting meat on the bones of how humans will set foot on Mars by 2024, there will soon be an easier way of getting an authentic Martian experience just 13,000km away from SpaceX’s San Francisco headquarters. The Dubai government has announced plans to build a 1.9 million square foot replica of Mars, and they’ve gone out their way to make it just as unpleasant and inhospitable as the real thing, without the seven-month flight time.
Yes, the city that brought us an artificial ski slope in a region with highs of 36°C will soon have another unusual landmark. Mars Science City will cost around £100 million, and house a series of interconnected domes replicating the planet’s unwelcoming atmosphere and terrain. The domes will be 3D-printed to keep in heat and radiation, making them a good analogue for the depressing reality of early human life on Mars.
The labs will be used to work on technology to get around the myriad problems of keeping humans alive on the Martian surface – namely producing food, water and energy. When construction is completed the UAE intends to have a group of people living within its confines for an entire year, like an even more tedious version of Big Brother. This kind of thing has been done before – albeit in slightly less authentic-sounding conditions.
Mars Science City is clearly aimed at researchers rather than tourists, but the Dubai government has plans for visitors too with a museum showcasing humanity’s space achievements to date, complete with areas aimed at engaging children with the wonders of space. The structure will apparently also be 3D-printed, this time using local sand from the UAE desert.
“The UAE seeks to establish international efforts to develop technologies that benefit humankind, and that establish the foundation of a better future for more generations to come,” said UAE prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “We also want to consolidate the passion for leadership in science in the UAE, contributing to improving life on earth and to developing innovative solutions to many of our global challenges.”
There’s no timeline on the project, but with even the most optimistic estimates suggesting humans on Mars by 2024, they’ve probably got a little breathing space to get the project right. The last thing the region needs is a repeat of the man-made islands for millionaires, which were reportedly last seen sinking back into the sea.