‘Mars town’ in NW China to build 30 astronomical telescopes

By Shan Jie in Lenghu Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/12 20:43:40

The "Mars Camp" is located in Lenghu town, NW China's Qinghai Province, where the landscape resembles Mars. It has 68 sleeping capsules and makes you feel like you are on the red planet. Photo: Li Hao/GT

China is building a Mars-themed town in Northwest China's Qinghai Province, and 30 astronomical telescopes will be built.

Lenghu will be built into a Mars-themed town with scientific research, sci-fi culture and tourism in it, Tian Cairang, secretary of the Communist Party of China in Mangya, which administers Lenghu, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Lenghu, which means "cold lake" in Chinese, is located deep in the Gobi Desert and is known for its Mars-like landscape.

More than 30 astronomical telescopes will be built in Lenghu town, making it the largest in Asia, Tian said. The astronomical telescopes will be used for research by scientific institutes and universities.

Tian said Lenghu is ideal for observing space. "The sky is always clear here and astronomical observation conditions are also great," he said, "These are the key to astronomical telescopes."

The astronomical telescopes will be built on top of Saishiteng mountain about 4,200 meters above sea level. It takes two hours by car from the town center to the mountain top, including a one-and-a-half hour drive through rugged roads along the cliff.

The Global Times reporter on Friday saw workers level the ground on the mountain top as part of infrastructure construction for the astronomical telescopes.

As the pioneer of the Mars-town project, a "Mars Camp" was officially opened in Lenghu on March 1, aiming to attract tourists and inspire children's interest in astronomy. The Lenghu Sci-Fi Literature Prize was also launched in 2018.

Lenghu was used to be a key petroleum mine in Qinghai with a population of more than 120,000. But as the resource dried up in the 1980s, it gradually shrank into a town of only hundreds of residents.

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