Dubai is building a huge ‘Mars city’ so we can practice living on the red planet

For such a small place, Dubai sure makes a helluva lot of noise when it comes to ideas of the outlandish variety.

The latest plan is for a huge “space simulation city” to provide “a viable and realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars.” Yes, the UAE city is clearly thinking ahead with this latest project, though if Elon Musk gets his way, perhaps not that far ahead.

Costing around $135 million and covering a space of 1.9 million square feet, the Mars Science City hopes to attract science experts from around the world to help make the project a success. The completed design will include laboratories for food, energy, and water where scientists can research ways to improve the technology to help sustain life on the red planet.

Planners want to place a team inside the city for a year to help develop new ways of living in a harsh environment. Similar experiments have already taken place in other parts of the world, but the living space has usually been far small than what the UAE has planned.

The simulation city will also include a museum that “displays humanity’s greatest space achievements, including educational areas meant to engage young citizens with space, and inspire in them a passion for exploration and discovery,” the UAE government said in a release.

Mars Science City, Dubai
Dubai Media Office
Dubai Media Office

The space city — the work of internationally renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels — will be sealed inside 3D-printed walls incorporating sand from the Emirati desert.

In 2016 the UAE revealed plans to colonize the red planet in the next 100 years. For a place that has plenty of experience in transforming vast, barren lands into a bustling, thriving cityscape, maybe it will actually happen. The Middle Eastern nation plans to send its first unmanned probe to Mars in 2020.

Big ideas

Dubai is already home to the world’s largest indoor ski slope (there aren’t many skiing opportunities outside in the desert heat); uses “flying” firefighters to tackle blazes; and even has robot cops helping to keep law and order on the city streets.

It also has plans to build a rainforest inside a hotel; wants to launch a pilotless, flying-taxi service; and could be the first place in the world to set up the ultra-high-speed Hyperloop transportation system.

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