Sep 27, 2017 | By Benedict

The United Arab Emirates will attempt to build a city that simulates living on Mars. The $137 million Mars Science City will span 1.9 million square feet, and will contain a space museum with walls 3D printed using sand from the desert.

Building human habitats on Mars, once a mere fantasy restricted to sci-fi novels, is now firmly on the agenda for many scientists. Many believe that such habitats could be 3D printed, while NASA has even held competitions encouraging amateur scientists to create novel 3D printed Mars habitat designs.

Although not yet regarded as an important player in space travel, the UAE has just launched an exciting project that could go some way to enabling human habitats on Mars.

The $137 million Mars Science City, the largest space simulation city ever built, will involve the construction of a Mars-like habitat spanning 1.9 million square feet. Given the dusty climate of the UAE, the project organizers believe the location could provide a realistic picture of what it’s like to build on Mars.

“The new project is another step in the UAE’s leading contributions to the global science movement,” commented Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. “We seek to set an example and motivation for others to participate and contribute to humanity’s march into space.”

The project was unveiled at a UAE government annual meeting in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, where parties discussed the possibility of constructing laboratories for food, energy, and water on the simulation city, as well as the need to carry out agricultural testing and studies about food security.

The city will even include a museum of space travel, whose walls will be made from 3D printed sand collected from the desert. The museum will contain educational areas for encouraging young citizens to learn about space.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid explained why the UAE wants to carry out such a grand project.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Ultimately, the Mars Science City and its 3D printed buildings are part of the UAE’s mission to lead the race to take humans to Mars. It also fits in with the Mars 2117 Strategy, launched during the fifth World Government Summit, which aims to build the first human settlements on Mars within the next century.

Despite being a UAE-based project, the simulation city will attract a high caliber of scientist from all across the world. The project could even have benefits in areas besides space exploration, such as food, water, and energy efficiency on Earth.

When the Mars Science City is fully built, a team of “astronauts” will live in it for a whole year. The team’s experiences in the city will inform scientists about how well humans are prepared for life on Mars, and will help those scientists make further improvements to the city’s design.

The city, which will be built by scientists, engineers, and designers from the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and Dubai Municipality, will consist of several domes and unusual internal structures, and will use a realistic simulation environment to replicate conditions on the surface of Mars. Danish architect Bjarke Ingels will also contribute to the project.

"The UAE is a great country with vision and understanding of the challenges we face and the rapid changes our world is experiencing,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. “We believe in the potential of space exploration, and in collaborating with global partners and leaders in order to harness the findings of this research and movement that seeks to meet people’s needs and improve quality of life on earth."

 

 

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