Beijing: Chinese authorities have mapped out a 400 million yuan ($61 million) development plan to turn a red rock basin in the country into a Mars simulation base for scientific research and eco-tourism.
Liu Xiaoqun, from the moon and deep-space exploration department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said on Tuesday that a planning meeting was held in Qinghai province to determine the base`s development, reports Xinhua news agency.
As China`s only Mars simulation science and recreation base, we hope it will focus on the scientific theme of space exploration."
The red rock area in Qaidam basin in western Qinghai has been called the most "Martian" place on the Earth, with its natural features, landscape and climate all similar to those on the red planet.
The provincial government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed an agreement last November to build the base.
China has started an unmanned Mars probe project and plans to launch it around 2020.