As China's thirst for space exploration shows no signs of waning after it became the first country to land on the dark side of the moon, on Wednesday it launched a simulation center designed to give Earthlings a taster of what deep space travel and life on Mars could be like.

Sitting in the vast planes of the Gobi desert some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Jinchang in northern China, Mars Base 1 is a huge complex of nine interconnecting spaces spanning 1,000 square meters, although future plans for this Martian project are far more ambitious.