To answer David Bowie’s burning question from 1971, “Is there life on Mars?” No — but soon, there very well could be. The United States Emerites is spending tons of money — over $5.4 billion — to experiment with growing fruits and vegetables on the red, desolate planet. The oil-rich country has been ambitious about colonizing on Mars and, naturally, people will have to eat when they get there.
The UAE Space Agency is using its location here on Earth as a test site for what could become the agricultural future for Mars. They say it’s not much different than the desert, as they’re both seemingly uninhabitable environments where it’s unlikely for plants to flourish.
"There are similarities between Mars and the desert," UAE Space Agency senior strategic planner Rashid Al Zaabi told the BBC. "The landscape of the UAE, the soil, are similar."
These out-of-this world efforts come in preparation for the end of an era for oil, the region’s biggest money-maker.
“There are 100 million young people in the Arab region. We want them to play a part in the future and take the region to the next level,” project manager Omran Sharaf told the BBC. “It’s about creating a post-oil, knowledge-based, creative-based economy. So it is important we become well-established scientific center. We have created many engineers, but not many scientists. This [Mars project] is purely a scientific mission.”
The UAE is launching a probe to Mars from Japan in 2020, making it one of only nine countries attempting to explore the planet. If efforts prove successful, UAE expects that man will set foot on the planet’s soil within the next 100 years.
Also — country singer Sammy Kershaw may want to change the lyrics to that song he wrote about his unfaithful girlfriend. (When they grow cantaloupes on Mars, I’ll come back to you.) Hang in there, buddy. But hey, speaking of music and places beyond human reach, here are 10 destinations you can’t travel to — because they exist only in song.