Is there life on Mars? The UAE certainly thinks there could be.
In 2017, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced that the UAE will be building a 1.9 million-square-foot ‘city’ able to simulate the landscape and atmosphere of Mars.
Architects Bjarke Ingels Group were asked to design a prototype of a city suitable for sustaining life on Mars and then adapt it for use in the Emirati desert.
Here a team of scientists will live for one year and discover how to become self-sufficient in water, food and energy in a harsh planetary environment.
Challenges the design team face include Mars' thin atmosphere and no global magnetic field, so inhabitants would be exposed to harmful radiation; freezing -63 degrees C temperatures; little air pressure, so liquids quickly evaporate into gas; an unprotected human's blood would boil on Mars.
Created by a 3d printer and using sand from the UAE’s deserts, the AED 500 million project will be the largest space stimulation city ever built.
Its pressurised biodomes each covered with a transparent polyethene membrane and will house laboratories, as well as land, for testing what extra-terrestrial agricultural practices might look like.
Jakob Lange, partner at Bjarke Ingels Group, says the city would be powered and heated using solar energy, and the thin atmosphere could actually help the domes maintain their temperature.
Mars Science City (MBRSC) is part of the country's ambitious space program, run by Dubai's Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, which plans on reaching Mars by 2021 and building the first settlement there by 2117.
MBRSC says the Science City is still in the concept stage, but we look forward to seeing it emerge from the sands of the UAE desert.