Houses on Mars – An Incredibly Cool Concept Released by NASA

Study and research in this area has been ongoing for some time now – the possibility of creating habitable houses on Mars – according to a recent release NASA may have just found the right concept to make this a reality

Houses on Mars - An Incredibly Cool Concept Released by NASA

Mars, the red planet, has been a subject of considerable interest in the field of astronomy and astrobiology ever since evidence of liquid water on the ancient surface of Mars was discovered, which led researchers to conclude that the planet may have been habitable for some form of life, possibly microorganisms in the past.

According to a recent release, NASA scientists may have just come up with the right concept of creating habitable houses on the surface of mars. For astronomers to set foot on Mars and spend time in researching the inhospitable planet, their foremost requirement would be accommodation – a shelter to protect them from the high-energy radiation and extreme temperatures for long periods of time.

It is imperative that the house should have the capability of completely protecting the astronauts from the high-energy cosmic rays that can pierce the Martian atmosphere and cause irreparable damage to cells and a plethora of other health related issues.

After extensive brainstorming, researchers and scientists at the NASA’s Langley research Center in Hampton, Virginia, may have come up with the most unlikely material for building habitable homes – ice.

The concept that NASA is researching is officially termed “Mars Ice Home” which in reality would be an inflatable inner tube-like device which would cover the shelter with a dense protective sheet of ice and will somewhat resemble the picture below.

NASA Langley/Clouds AO/SEArch
NASA Langley/Clouds AO/SEArch

Senior systems engineer Kevin Vipavetz from the Langley Research Center said, “After a day dedicated to identifying needs, goals, and constraints we rapidly assessed many crazy, out of the box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home design, which provides a sound engineering solution.”

“The Mars Ice Home design has several advantages that make it an appealing concept. It is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew arrives,” the team involved in the research said.

“It incorporates materials extracted from Mars, and because water in the Ice Home could potentially be converted to rocket fuel for the Mars Ascent Vehicle, the structure itself doubles as a storage tank that can be refilled for the next crew.”

According to their theory, the “hydrogen-rich” ice is like a defensive shield against the damaging radiation caused by the cosmic rays thereby preventing the rays from reaching the astronauts.

The diagram below depicts the thickness of the ice shield atop the dome of the house providing the desired protection, conceptually speaking.

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NASA Langley/Clouds AO/SEArch

According to the ongoing research, the materials required to build such living quarters will have to be capable of combating the extremely harsh environment for extended use over many years.

The threats that the conceptual ice home will have to withstand for years together would be in the form of “ultraviolet radiation, charged particle radiation, possibly some atomic oxygen, perchlorates, as well as dust storms – although not as fierce as the movie The Martian,” elaborated Kevin Kempton, a research team member.

This is going to be a “three-stage-plan” toward making manned missions to the red planet according to NASA.

Phase one of the project has been named “Earth Reliant” and the space agency has already made a foray into it which involves research on how living in space in the International Space Station (ISS) for long period of time affects the human body.

Although these are positive signs for the future, we are still far away from making it a reality. With the existing technology at our disposal, it’s going to take us a minimum of 150 days to reach Mars in the first place, which is 140 times further away from the earth than the Moon.

Other ongoing experiments at the International Space Station include “3D printing, advanced communications systems, and extravehicular operations.”

Phase 2 of the Mars program is called “Proving Ground.” The official document released reads: “NASA will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment that allows crews to return to Earth in a matter of days.” However, most of the tests on phase 2 will be conducted in the space around the Moon called the “Cislunar Space.”

One of the main purposes of phase2 for NASA is to ensure the reduction on Earth dependency for astronauts, space stations, and rockets – a quick trip back to earth will remain a possibility if absolutely necessary.

The final phase named “Earth Independent” is self-explanatory in that once man sets foot on the moons of Mars and the planet itself, self-sufficiency will have been attained and reliance on Earth will become minimal.

“Future Mars missions will represent a collaborative effort among NASA and its partners – a global achievement that marks a transition in humanity’s expansion as we go to Mars not just to visit, but to stay,” says NASA.

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