Dubai Will Host the First Martian City
If humans are to make their abode on Mars, they will first have to bring Mars to their own planet. Such is the reasoning behind the Mars Science City, the most ambitious simulation of a Martian colony so far, which is to be rolled out in Dubai.
One of the main goals of space agencies is the survival of human beings under extreme extraterrestrial conditions. A few weeks ago we learned that the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque and the European Space Agency (ESA) were performing tests to simulate conditions on Mars in Lanzarote (Spain). Together with two other astronauts, Duque has been carrying out field work to deepen their geological knowledge and enhance their sample-collecting abilities. One of the main points of interest will have been the “jameos”, underground lava tubes like those recently found on the Moon, which could prove to be valuable as operational bases on other planets, or as structures protected from cosmic radiation, providing a safe haven for life.
However, the most ambitious initiative to date in terms of replicating conditions on Mars will take place in the desert of Dubai. The UAE government has just announced a hefty 140-million- dollar investment in the development of a city that has everything needed to check how viable that city would be on Mars, taking into account everything from construction techniques to insulation from extreme temperatures and radiation. Bjarke Ingels, the renowned Danish architect, will lead a two million square feet project in which he will be able to give free rein to his vision for the future of humankind. The Mars Science City, which will be the largest replication of an extraterrestrial city ever seen, will make use of 3D construction techniques, with industrial printers employing the sands of Dubai’s desert to build the complex. This will help to assess the feasibility of sending 3D construction machinery to other planets in future space missions, instead of using ready-made modules.
The planned structures will comprise several domes that are to house crops, food-safety testing areas, research facilities and water processing labs. One of the domes will be home to a group of humans who will live there for a whole year, putting their survival skills to the test. Finally, the project will also include a museum to bring space exploration closer to wider audiences.
In one sense, the Mars Science City follows in the tracks of the Biosphere 2 project that was implemented in Arizona in the early nineties. At that time, it was the largest closed ecosystem ever created, and worked as a testbed for the survival of of fauna and flora on other planets, also researching into how human beings organize themselves to live together in an isolated environment.
Looking to the future, however, there are other projects that are aiming to colonize Mars in the long term. Indeed, one of the most interesting ones is the Mars Home Planet, an initiative coming from HP and nVidia. Both of these computer hardware companies have launched a contest to model a city for one million settlers on the red planet. Visitors will be welcome, although only by means of VR tours at the beginning.
A few places on Earth that feel just like Mars
There are many barren places on our own planet that bear a strong resemblance to Mars, thanks to their particular orography or climate. These are a few of the most breathtaking ones:
- Timanfaya nature reserve (Lanzarote). This young and still active volcanic area provides some stunning red, desolate landscapes that are a perfect reminder of the images sent from Mars by the Mars Pathfinder and other space missions.
- Río Tinto mines (Huelva, Spain). A mining area dating back to ancient Roman times, which the European Space Agency has also used to simulate the red planet.
- Devon island (Canadá). A frequent testbed for Nasa’s vehicles. Its rugged orography is very similar to the images we receive from Mars.
Source: Design Boom