‘Mars colony’ to be built in Argentina desert to prep humans for Red Planet life

Scientists are planning to build a fake Mars colony in the deserts of Argentina to help prepare astronauts for life on the Red Planet.

The project, called Solar54, will simulate Martian life in a red desert around 62 miles (100km) from the city of La Rioja.

The Los Colorados reserve, which is filled with red soil canyons and low air pressure, is said to be "one of the places most similar to the red planet on Earth."

Solar54 hopes it will enable astronauts and scientists to test living conditions on Mars in order to build future colonies someday in the future.

Project managers at Solar54 said: "It has the objective of emulating the living conditions, Space Technology laboratories, and Food Production Systems that would be used on the planet Mars.

On their website, they explain that the project will simulate the "cultivation and life to be used in future space explorations to the planet Mars."

The project will grow plants in special greenhouses and also test how well astronauts cope mentally with being isolated for months or years at a time away from civilisation during the trip through space.

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The project follows similar efforts in Iceland. Home to Europe's largest desert, Iceland has been used as a site to simulate life on the Moon thanks to its barren and inhospitable environments which mimic those found on extraterrestrial worlds like Mars and Europa.

In 2021, NASA sent three astronauts to test a set of new spacesuits in the country's lava tubes. There, they spent three days collecting bacteria samples from walls and wandering around to push the spacesuits to their limits.

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