"Martian Architectural Solutions"

Dr eng. architect Joanna Kozicka

Gdansk University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture

This presentation was shown on Mars Society convention in Bergamo, Italy, 16 October 2009.

Slide 1

If we want to send people to Mars we need a proper habitat to provide living and working area. The bigger crew, the bigger habitat is required. The big habitat is obvious if we think about Mars colonization.

There are 4 issues that must be analyzed for architectural design of such a proper habitat
.- (see slide)

Slide 2

Sociopsychological problems occur in every Isolated and Confined Environment, like during a polar or space mission. It means physiological and psychological diseases - from headaches and sleep disorders to emotional breakdowns. Interpersonal conflicts also may become very dramatic.

The longer the mission, and more limited living conditions, the more serious problems occur. Sociopsychologists alert that human factor has a decisive impact on a Mars mission success or failure.

Analyses conducted by scientists indicate that some architectural solutions have a magnificent impact on people well being. The most important of them are listed here:
.- (see slide)

Slide 3

The biggest problem of building a Martian base is its high expense. Cost reduction is accessible by applying:
.- (see slide)

Slide 4

There are two main technological issues to analyse in the matter of the Martian base. The habitat needs a reliable structure, that will:
.- (see slide)

The building needs protection against extreme Martian conditions to secure people inside. The habitat must be hermetic to avoid mixing unbreathable Martian atmosphere with the artificial one, and to avoid dust accumulation. The temperature inside the habitat should be high enough and stable, so thermal insulation might be required.

The base also needs a protection against cosmic solar and UV radiation, which are a threat for people and equipment.

My analyses show that there exists contemporary building technologies and materials that can be adapted in Martian base construction. Some of them have been already discussed by other scientists, some not.

Slide 5

Four main types of building structures appear to be the best solutions for the Martian base.
.- (see slide)

Protection against the Martian environment can be provided by different materials:
- membranes, like ETFE or PI
- thermal insulations like Aerogel or NanoPore
- antiradiation barriers like Demron, water or regolith.

Slide 6

Now I will shortly discuss recommended building technologies.

Rigid metal structures are the most reliable constructions in space applications. They have been already used with success. However they are heavy, so expensive in space industry. Also they provide very confined living area hardly acceptable for long-term Mars mission (2.5 years). One element module is the worst solution in this case. However there are four options to provide bigger space:
.- (see slide)

Slide 7

Expandable structures are a very promising solution for the Martian base. There are a few types of them. One thing they have in common is that they expand from small packed stage to a much bigger one. We have got:
.- (see slide)

The most characteristic unfolding structure is a Hoberman's dome. The lattice structure can be plastic or metal. A fabric can be attached to the framing or panels can be fastened on the unfolded structure.

Inflatable structure is especially useful in Martian conditions, because filling it with an artificial atmosphere, we deploy the construction simultaneously. They are very light and provide very spacious area after the deployment.

Inflatable structures are usually a kind of balloon. But inflated can be also a truss made of pneumatic tubes. It is more sophisticated structure, but it allows to get another type of building element. And example of such a structure is an expandable rigidizable radar.

There have been discovered different types of shape memory polymers (SMP). They can be used as building materials. They can be produced in many shapes. The special heating and cooling processes allow to compact or fold them into a small package and later deploy into original shape and size. Here are examples of shape memory polymers: (see slide)

Slide 8

On Mars dominate hard volcanic rocks, similar to terrestrial basalts and andesites. On Earth, inside such compacted rocks, tunnels are excavated with PCF (Penetrating Cone Fracture) and drill & blast method. The first one is less aggressive for the environment, but the second one is more affective. They could be adopted on Mars. If the rock layer is thick and homogeneous, tunnels drilled inside them may be self-supported and the expensive lining is not required. We can also drill habitable tunnels inside big ice rocks that have been discovered on Mars. The layer of ice above would be a great solar radiation barrier.

Slide 9

We can also utilize the Martian regolith to produce building materials like:
.- (see slide)

Small elements put one on another in layers may be formed into walls or arches. However many of them require moisture, another framing or loading to complete the structure.

Slide 10

During my researches I have discovered many guidelines for the Martian base architecture. The main four one are listed here:
.- (see slide)

Slide 11

Based on all my guidelines, I have created several different Mars base concepts. I will discuss them in an order. First habitats in domes, later habitats around greenhouses and eventually habitats in slopes.

Slide 12

Conception 1

Inflatables are the lightest and the easiest in deployment structures, so they seem the most promising solution for the Martian base. I propose two concepts with pneumatic domes. In the first one a modular element is applied. Domes can be differently arranged by attaching them one to another by an elastic airlock. We can bring only one or two modules for the first crew on Mars, later we could send more for the base development. Inside the unsheltered dome, plants would be grown or recreational area could be provided. Living and working area would be introduced inside modules covered with a mantle filled with water or regolith.

Slide 13

Conception 2

Here we have got domes in different sizes. Thus people would easier recognize the places in habitat and functional differences could be introduced, e.g. greenhouses are the in the biggest domes.

Slide 14

There already exist terrestrial inflatable dome-like structures. Some of them are fully transparent, e.g. Eden project or Euphore laboratory. Zorbing ball is a special inspiration as it has an inflatable layer. On Mars this layer can be filled with antiradiation material (such as water or regolith).

In literature I have found different solutions for expandable structures, like inflatable dome from "The Case for Mars" or pneumatic cubic modules of Sadeh & Crisswell.

Slide 15

Conception 3

A well-known opportunity is to settle a base inside a crater. However the crater cannot be too big, because of the sealing difficulties. Under the transparent roof anchored in the rims of the crater, plants could be grown. People would be able to build brick structures inside, or excavate tunnels in the slopes.

Slide 16

Conception 4

We could also make excavations in a chosen shape and length. Inside slopes habitable tunnels would be made. Windows cut through would let the sunlight penetrate the inside.

Slide 17

Conception 5

A greenhouse could be built also on the ground with brick walls sealed with transparent roofs. People would live in vaults built along agriculture areas. A layer of regolith would be reinforced by gabions.

Slide 18

Underground houses around yards are common in China and Tunisia (Matmata region). This solution is chosen also sometimes in contemporary architecture.

Here there are shown some Mars base concepts from literature.

Slide 19

Conception 6

By applying excavation technologies we can establish the Martian base in slopes. They are common terrain formations on the Red Planet. Underground tunnels could be made, and inflatable greenhouses could be anchored on the rock shelves or at the foot of the cliff.

Slide 20

Conception 7

Also terraces could be excavated and later sealed. Here is an another concept of the habitat in slope.

Slide 21

Conception 8

Here there are presented inflatable cylinders that are partly inserted into slopes, so a half is protected against radiation by a layer of regolith, and the other half is lighten by the sun, so plants can be grown there.

Slide 22

People of many cultures built their homes on shelf rocks or excavated them in rocks, like Indians in Mesa Verde, USA (Cliff Palace) or inhabitants of Capadocia, Turkey (Goreme Valley, Derinkuyu underground city).

Here there are some concepts of extraterrestrial habitats found in literature.

Slide 23

The habitat on Mars should be not only spacious, but also people - friendly I have analyzed methods of interior design to achieve that second goal. Main guidelines are listed here:
.- (like this airduct)
.- (see slide)

Slide 24

Here I show some of my ideas for interiors in the Martian base. Simple elements in modular sizes can be joined to create different types of furniture: shelves, chairs, tables etc. A textile cover in different colors would provide characteristic atmosphere / mood in every room, so space personalisation is achieved.

Slide 25

Here there are other examples. We can use inflatables, shape memory materials or ceramic elements. Proper LED lighting could be applied to provide different colors in rooms.

Slide 26

I've chosen one of my concepts to make a conceptual project of the Martian base. Some pictures are shown here: main view; cross section with perspective of the part of the greenhouse and underground habitable tunnel. You can see also a proposition of interior design.

Slide 27

And here is my conclusion: (see slide)

It doesn't have to be very expensive if we reach out for low-cost solutions - it means bringing from Earth only the lightest but resistant structures and applying ISRU with equipment only once imported to be used many times on different tasks. Thank you for your attention.

Dr eng. architect Joanna Kozicka

modified php sources, courtesy of Andrzej Oszer Janek Kozicki, september 2009