The United Arab Emirates government has appointed world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels, founder of the aptly named BIG study, to build nothing less than a prototype Mars city in the desert, and the designs are stunning.
The announcement came a few days before Elon Musk said SpaceX will start robotic flights to Mars by 2022, with humans on Mars by 2024.
That timeline is considerably quicker than the UAE’s plans for a “mini-city” on Mars by 2117. In February, Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a series of tweets that “Mars 2117” will involve Emirati and international scientists. “We’re building a space pioneering passion among our young people,” he said.
The Mars Science City project is another step in that direction. At a cost of nearly $140 million, it will cover 1.9 million square feet and will provide “a viable and realistic model to simulate living on the surface of Mars.”
The project aims at attracting “the best scientific minds from around the world,” according to the press release. It looks pretty alluring for scientists and engineers, and some of them will be able to live in the red planet city for one year.
Formed by interconnected domes, Mars Science City will have several labs for food, energy and water, and agricultural testing.
That’s not only to simulate life on Mars using 3D printing technology and heat and radiation insulation, but possibly to “address global challenges such as food, water, and energy security on Earth,” according to the release.
The prototype city will also feature a museum, whose walls will be 3D printed using desert sand, aimed at educating young citizens about “humanity’s greatest space achievements,” the release said.
In case you’re wondering why they’re calling it a prototype, that’s because the UAE is serious about settling on Mars — they’re looking to build the first colony on the red planet by 2117.
This is what Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, said upon the announcement of Mars Science City earlier this week:
“The UAE is a great country with vision and understanding of the challenges we face and the rapid changes our world is experiencing,”
“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.
“The new project is another step in the UAE’s leading contributions to the global science movement; we seek to set an example and motivation for others to participate, and contribute, to humanity’s march into space.