Chilean scientists along with scientists from several other countries will construct a base in the most-arid desert in the world, Chile’s Atacama (where the 33 miners got trapped) aiming to simulate life in a space colony on the planet Mars, which shares a lot of characteristics with Atacama.
Mobile launch-pads for travel and green houses that can endure Mars’ environment are just some of the innovations scientists are going to be researching and testing in the Mars research complex to be built in the Chajnator plains. The area is recognized by the scientific community as one of the most similar Earth environments to Mars with its extreme solar radiation and temperatures, low humidity and strong winds.
The European Southern Observatory, or ESO, will build along with its international partners the “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array”, or “ALMA”, a top-of-the-line telescope, at the site to study the light from some of the coldest objects in the universe.
Experts have had earlier experiences simulating Mars-like conditions in Utah and on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, said Carmen Gloria Jimenez, a University of Antofagasta professor and one of the Chilean coordinators of the project.
In March 2011, a delegation from the Chinese space agency will visit the Chilean desert project. The Chinese are projecting that by 2020 they will have below-ground bases on the Moon to extract minerals and are eager to research and test their cutting edge space technology.