A vacation in Mars is not that far off

China has decided to turn a red rock basin in western Qinghai province into the country's first Mars scientific research base and eco-tourism site, Chinese media reported yesterday.

Officials from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), China's top science institution, picked what some call the most "Martian" place on Earth for the 400-million-yuan (S$83 million) project.

The area in Qaidam basin is similar to the Red Planet in terms of natural features, landscape and climate, China Daily reported.

"As China's only Mars science and recreation base, we hope it will focus on the scientific theme of space exploration," Mr Liu Xiaoqun, an official involved in space exploration at CAS, said on Tuesday.

The schedule of the project remains unclear but the base will consist of "Mars community", a theme park, and a "Mars campsite" that provides experimental module-like accommodations, the report said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2017, with the headline 'A vacation in Mars is not that far off'. Print Edition | Subscribe