The Red Planet as seen by Europe’s Mars Express.
Credit: ESA/D. O’Donnell – CC BY-SA IGO

China is setting up its first Mars Village analog site to simulate scientific experiments.

According to China Global Television Network, or CGTN, the village is to be situated in the Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

China’s Science and Application Center for Moon and Deep Space Exploration (SACMDE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is leading the effort.

Local landscape

According to CGTN, the selected location is expected to serve as a field site to “simulate scientific experiments,” as the local landscape lacks vegetation and shares a range of similarities with the surface of Mars.

As noted by Liu Xiaoqun, director of SACMDE, the Haixi prefecture has a desert area covering 9.5 million square kilometers as well as the largest Yardang landform group in China.

The geological features are “particularly similar to the ones of Mars,” explains Liu.

Once established, the Mars Village could also be considered as a sustainable growth point for Qinghai’s economic development, as well as its tourism industry.

Yang Liwei, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency – and that country’s first astronaut.
Credit: CMSE

Third set of astronauts  

Meanwhile, China announced today that it will select its third group of astronauts this year.

China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, now deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, says the first and second astronaut groups were all previously Chinese air force pilots.

The selection of the third group, Yang notes, will also include engineers who will be responsible for maintenance, assembly and other space tasks.

China is eyeing the 2020s as the time frame to develop and occupy a space station.



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