Humans may not have ventured to the moon in more than four decades, but that doesn't mean we've lost our ambition for visiting other worlds. Serious plans are now underway to put two space tourists in a commercially launched rocket that will circle the moon in a year or two. Meanwhile, NASA continues its plans to put humans on Mars in the late 2020s or early 2030s. China and India have also announced plans for manned expeditions to the moon, with Mars as an eventual possibility, too.

But as ambitious as these plans may be, they are dwarfed by the United Arab Emirates' plan for the next century.

One of the world's richest nations announced plans to build a glistening city on Mars fit for habitation by 2117, a century from now. UAE engineers have already unveiled plans for a city the size of Chicago. The tiny oil kingdom is also rolling out scientific programs meant to create generational interest in space exploration. The UAE would like scientific innovation and know-how in space to take the place of petroleum as its greatest export. UAE's plan begins with the launch of its first Martian probe in 2021. Just as there's something inspiring about the mythical "city on a hill," there's something just as uplifting about a city on Mars, even if it isn't an American city.