Mankind has always been fascinated with the dream of spaceflight. Exploration can be seen as a human need for the quest of its own origins and destiny. Mars is one of the very few places in our Solar System where life could exist or have existed. Therefore studying Mars means understanding what are the past and maybe the future for our own planet. And going there is both a further step in human inherent exploration will and a necessity to give mankind a chance of surviving beyond our planet. Planning a human settlement in Mars is a task that has to be foreseen today to be a reality tomorrow.
Thinking about a settlement in Mars is an amazing task for several reasons. When arriving there humans will start from scratch, exactly the same way when the Roman armies did when tracing the cardus and decumanus in their camps that afterwards would become streets of our cities. Furthermore, after some years, the settlement will increase its population and size and like a living organism will grow following patterns that might be thought in advance. Finally, Mars is the planet in the Solar System that has more similarities to the Earth but this doesn’t mean that it is easy to arrive there and settle: temperature is much lower than the Earth’s and its lack of magnetic field leaves the thin atmosphere completely unprotected to the solar wind and Mars is still losing it daily.
4Frontiers Corp. is carrying out an amazing task both on educating the society about such an incredible task that we face in our times and trying to get closer to make it real. Therefore, it’s been a pleasure for the people from Galactic Suite involved in the project and we expect that this is just a beginning of a long term project that finally we all expect to see, one day.
The Gen 1.5 and Gen II architectural study aims at establishing the basis for a urban planning for the growing of a Mars human community, select the building technologies candidate to be used, develop a set of archetypical objects according to those technologies and the functions foreseen by 4Frontiers Corp and develop a design for the settlement both of Gen 1.5 and Gen II.
The work was established on a base of regular document deliverables and teleconferences to discuss the materials submitted. This approach has demonstrated sometimes difficult due to other tasks that inevitably aroused but we are confident about the main lines of the work established during these months.
Barcelona, July 2008
1.1. Site: Meridiani Crater
· Situation: 2ºS 354.5ºE. Close to Equator for launch and landing operations.
· Height: -1500m. Larger layer of Martian atmosphere offers better radiation protection and higher atmospheric pressure, therefore less gradient of pressure between conditioned indoors and outdoors.
Different positions are considered.
· Surface base where entire structure is situated above existing Mars surface.
· Underground base where entire structure is situated below Mars surface.
· Hill base where entire structure is situated underground inside a natural/artificial hill.
(Previous Gen 1.0 studies chosen option).
· Crater base where entire structure is situated in a meteoroid impact created crater.
1.2.1. Surface base
· Easy to set up. Minimum excavations needed.
· Easy access to other Martian destinations.
· Exposed to radiation (GCR&SW) and micrometeoroid impacts.
1.2.2. Underground base
· Protected against radiation sources (GCR&SW) and micrometeoroid impacts.
· Difficult to set up. Maximum volume of mining needed.
1.2.3. Hill base
· Partially protected against radiation sources (GCR&SW) and micrometeoroid impacts. At least one side open to atmosphere.
· Difficult to set up. Large volume of excavation needed.
· Rigid scheme for future growing.
1.2.4. Crater base
· Partially protected against radiation sources (SW). Base level below horizon.
· Easy to set up. Minimum excavations needed (for foundations only).
· Difficult access to other Martian destinations. Crater exit structures needed.
· Possible poor quality of ground due to crater’s meteoroid impact origin.
Considering future evolution on material shielding against radiation, the option chosen is the Surface Base that will provide maximum benefits to the first phase Gen 1.5 and future growing of Gen II. However excavations will be required and thus the project takes advantage of that situation by opening some courtyards. Detail explanation on that can be found at the Gen1.5 Settlement Description Chapter.
2. Mission Planning Requirements
The goal of the project is to design both a first and a second phase for a settlement in Mars. Gen 1.5 is the first phase and „includes the basic infrastructure to keep the initial settlers alive, and allow future population growth and support early economic development”. Gen 1.5 will accommodate about 21 settlers, assuming there are no children nor elderly in the population. Gen II is a second phase of the growing settlement with a population around 2000 settlers 15 years after Gen 1.5 is completed. The settlement will continously growing to achieve this final phase.
2.1. Gen 1.5 requirements. Space Matrix.
The following table summarizes the requirements for the Gen 1.5 settlement.
2.2. Gen II requirements. Space Matrix.
The following table summarizes the requirements for the Gen II settlement.
2.3. Urban Requirements
This continous growing from a small community with introduces some challenges in the design of the urban fabric.
· Gen 1.5 is a small settlement with all the residential areas, industrial, energy and mining areas very close to each other to minimize. Gen II will have larger areas dedicated to residential, industrial, energy producing and mining.
· As Gen 1.5 is continuously growing into Gen II dedicated areas will have to be defined not to have mixes between residential and industrial uses.
2.3.2. Egress Loop
· Mars conditioned areas will need more than one exit to other conditioned areas in order to provide emergency egress into safe areas in case of depressurization or accident in one segment.
· Buildings will be connected together by pressurized corridors that will provide access from one to the next and will lock the entrances in case of accident, depressurization… in the neighbor building.
2.3.3. Urban Regeneration
· As Gen 1.5 grows into Gen II, regeneration of the urban fabric will be required. Gen II will already allow bigger and more efficient buildings. The buildings will permanently be replaced and therefore wheeled access to each building has to be provided in order to let cranes and trucks in to work on them.
2.4. Environmental Requirements
Mars has specific environmental conditions that implies a higher complexity when developing built structures to be human inhabited.
2.4.1. Gravity vs. Indoor Pressure
· Gravity is about 38% of Earth’s.
· Atmospheric pressure is very low while indoor areas will be pressurized at 60kPa, meaning a high pressure difference between conditioned indoors and outdoors.
· The major structural problem for a conditioned space on Mars is holding the inside pressure, even though the buildings should also stand on without inside pressure during their construction or in case of an accidental loss of pressure.
· The best shapes to stand inside pressure are cylindrical and spherical as they homogenously distribute pressure on their perimeter.
· Average temperature on the Martian surface is -63oC.
· Thermal isolation can be achieved with an air layer between the external protection and the inner walls.
2.4.3. Abrasion vs. Illumination/Views
· Wind storms are common and carry Martian dust at speeds up to 100km/h.
· Protection to abrasion is to be considered avoiding “soft” materials on the external layers.
· Windows should have mobile protections in order to open or close them when necessary.
2.4.4. Radiation vs. Illumination/Views
· Three major sources of radiation: Solar Wind coming from the Sun’s direction, Cosmic Rays coming from all directions, Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejection coming from the Sun in punctual storms.
· Protection to Solar Wind and Cosmic Rays can be achieved by a 30cm thickness of Martian regolith; water tanks or materials with large amounts of hydrogen.
· Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections will need specific shelters.
· Illumination and views can be achieved with special windows with 7cm water thickness, by creating water mirror surfaces that reflect light or by assuming a future development of radiation shielded plastics.
3. Settlement Design Strategies
A series of strategies have been developed in order to fullfill the requirements both for Mars Gen 1.5 and Gen II. However, some of the processes are just pointed out and would need further development in next stages of the project.