Author Topic: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats  (Read 88920 times)

Offline Lumina

Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« on: 10/11/2016 10:50 PM »
(This is a splinter topic from the IAC discussion thread which started with the below post:)
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=41249.msg1597551#msg1597551

From what we have learned from IAC speech, we can probably safely assume that:

(a) ITS won't be carrying ready-made tuna can habitats to Mars (there is no pod-dropping)
(b) There is no need to carry ready-made habs (wedge, or any other shape) because the ITS itself can serve as a temporary hab on Mars
(c) Habitat components will be delivered flat-packed for assembly on Mars (like all other cargo)

These assumptions lead to the conclusion that the very first humans on Mars (on a long-stay mission) will be building habitats. Agree / disagree with this conclusion?

What kind of amazing, spacious habitats can we envision? What selection of habitat building components would you want in your flat-packed containers?

Online nacnud

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #1 on: 10/12/2016 02:23 AM »
Last year NASA ran a competition for habs called the '3-D Printed Habitat Challenge'. There was only $40K up for grabs but some interesting designs were put forwards. There is some background in the article NASA Awards Top Three Design Finalists in 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge. It's probably worth a trawl through to grab ideas.

The winning design was the Mars Ice House, which is well worth a look.

 
« Last Edit: 10/12/2016 02:28 AM by nacnud »

Offline Impaler

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #2 on: 10/12/2016 04:00 AM »
The ice-house idea is nonsense, sadly NASA seemed to have based the award on how much like of a modern architecture monstrosity it would be, note that this idea cooked up by just such an architectural firm.

A building made of ice would by necessity have walls and air at freezing temperatures inside at all times and that would raise the metabolic requirements of anyone living in it to two or three times the normal calorie intake because the body must generate so much more heat.  The interior air's moisture will freeze out as layer of frost on to the interior much like the frost in a refrigerator, ruining the 'view' and making the air extremely dry and uncomfortable.  This frost will need to be constantly scraped off or else it will just grow forever and fill the habitat.  The incredible mass of all this ice is likely to cause ground subsidence and cracking in the ice walls.  Dust accumulation on the exterior will likewise rapidly render the interior dark.

When NASA puts a stamp of approval on nonsense like this it encourages space-cadet type thinking in all kinds of other areas.

Offline Oli

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #3 on: 10/12/2016 06:15 AM »

Basically impossible to discuss without knowing the effect of partial gravity on human health.

Offline sdsds

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #4 on: 10/12/2016 06:52 AM »
Basically impossible to discuss without knowing the effect of partial gravity on human health.

Another fundamental health issue linked to habitat design is space radiation. It might end up that long term Mars residents do best when living in pits dug into the regolith, or at least in trenches.
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Offline pietro

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #5 on: 10/12/2016 07:38 AM »
One thing is the habitat itself. Another is the interior. What if the 2-3 m3 travelling-rooms (like the Japanese capsule/tube hotels) could be removed at the end of the trip from the ITS and transferred to the new habitats? At least for the initial rounds this would make creating the sleeping spaces very easy (until bigger rooms can be provided) and efficient, would make the ITS lighter for the return leg, etc. They could be stacked (again, like in the capsule hotels, or like in The Fifth Element).

Edit:

There are some spectacular capsule hotel ideas around: https://www.google.com/search?q=capsule+hotel&tbm=isch

These could be made robust enough to connect to a central air recycling system, so that they could be used as temporary safehouses in case of a depressurization event.
« Last Edit: 10/12/2016 08:00 AM by pietro »

Offline uhuznaa

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #6 on: 10/12/2016 09:49 AM »
The ice-house idea is nonsense, sadly NASA seemed to have based the award on how much like of a modern architecture monstrosity it would be, note that this idea cooked up by just such an architectural firm.

A building made of ice would by necessity have walls and air at freezing temperatures inside at all times and that would raise the metabolic requirements of anyone living in it to two or three times the normal calorie intake because the body must generate so much more heat.  The interior air's moisture will freeze out as layer of frost on to the interior much like the frost in a refrigerator, ruining the 'view' and making the air extremely dry and uncomfortable.  This frost will need to be constantly scraped off or else it will just grow forever and fill the habitat.  The incredible mass of all this ice is likely to cause ground subsidence and cracking in the ice walls.  Dust accumulation on the exterior will likewise rapidly render the interior dark.

When NASA puts a stamp of approval on nonsense like this it encourages space-cadet type thinking in all kinds of other areas.

Insulation like expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) could be produced from local resources too, it's just chains of C and H and you will produce lots of both all the time. If you have energy, water and CO2 all kinds of plastics will be easier to synthesize than to bring them from Earth. Building structural components for pressure vessels from ice will be impossible though. Melting caves in a glacier not so much. You will have to have enough ice above and around you to counter 10t per square meter of pressure if you want to build with ice.

I think that you will just NEED to build your habitats from local resources. Bringing them in one piece or in components from Earth will be prohibitively expensive, you will need all the payload capacity you have for other things.

Offline uhuznaa

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #7 on: 10/12/2016 10:37 AM »
One thing is the habitat itself. Another is the interior. What if the 2-3 m3 travelling-rooms (like the Japanese capsule/tube hotels) could be removed at the end of the trip from the ITS and transferred to the new habitats? At least for the initial rounds this would make creating the sleeping spaces very easy (until bigger rooms can be provided) and efficient, would make the ITS lighter for the return leg, etc. They could be stacked (again, like in the capsule hotels, or like in The Fifth Element).

Edit:

There are some spectacular capsule hotel ideas around: https://www.google.com/search?q=capsule+hotel&tbm=isch

These could be made robust enough to connect to a central air recycling system, so that they could be used as temporary safehouses in case of a depressurization event.

A room is not a pressure vessel. To judge how such a room would look (and how complex it would be and what mass it would require), look at ISS modules. Apart from some differences with thermal management it's pretty much the same challenge. Things don't are easier on Mars than they are in LEO just because it is a planet.

Only if you use local resources you don't have in space things may be easier than there. If you don't do that your Mars base will look very similar to the ISS, just sitting on the ground on Mars.


Online redliox

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #8 on: 10/12/2016 10:39 AM »
I think that you will just NEED to build your habitats from local resources. Bringing them in one piece or in components from Earth will be prohibitively expensive, you will need all the payload capacity you have for other things.

Well inevitably the first habitats on Mars will be Earth-made, but I refer to the first landings and the first teams to explore but then get down to the serious construction.  Once you have the equipment to shove regolith around and hopefully funnel it into 3D printing machines things open up.  The initial tin cans and inflatable tents might handle on the order of 3-10 people, whereas an actual city must house hundreds and eventually thousands onward.

My guess for the overall design of say a medium-sized settlement (or a very large base camp) with ~200 people would be the following:
1) Roomy but claustrophobic living space; no windows lots of dirt covering a 3D built structure.
2) Numerous garden areas, possibly domes, but primarily for plants to take advantage of natural sunlight.
3) Handful of metal nodes, such as airlocks or power systems, peaking out; mainly delivered from Earth but slowly becoming Martian-built.
In short, there would be lots of squat, building-sized mounds with greenhouses.

They would be this way because the safest landing sites probably will be in flat, boring areas with little else but the materials to build structures from.  No caves, lava tubes, or cliffs...just you, your machinery, and the dirt.  Hence why we might see slightly-boring-looking mounds for buildings on Mars...at least until you get a large enough population that starts barking for window space, then it may get more exotic.
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Offline TheTraveller

Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #9 on: 10/12/2016 10:39 AM »
Ice Dome Construction for Large Scale Habitats on Atmosphere Less Bodies

as attached with examples
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Offline rsdavis9

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #10 on: 10/12/2016 11:20 AM »
Well the thing about ice houses is that you are going to get large hollowed out glaciers as a result of h20 mining. So the caverns will be there whether you decide to habitat them or not.

So it really comes down to what is the most efficient in automation and equipment to convert glacier to liquid water. It might be long bore holes or it could be large caverns. One of them provides instant buildable structures.
bob

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #11 on: 10/12/2016 11:34 AM »
Ice Dome Construction for Large Scale Habitats on Atmosphere Less Bodies

as attached with examples
Method only works at high altitudes on Mars.
You need to insulate the dome if you want to have above 0 temperatures inside.
I believe there is a limit to the altitude the ITS can land because it requires aerodynamic braking.  Do the two match up?
On the other hand, the mechanical characteristics of ice can be improved significantly by additives, to create a material similar to fiber reinforce plastics, Pykrete.  The same dome could be build from the outside, rather than from the inside, using hoses and a supply of fibrous material. 
Wouldn't be transparent, though, although perhaps translucent, depending on the fiber used.
What is the cheapest fiber than can be obtained/produced on Mars?

What is the heat balance of a Martian building?  Houses are not very energy intensive, but the heat load from an efficient plantation may be quite high, for example.  A greenhouse (or more aptly a grow house) in ice might be a significative challenge, at the lighting levels can reach hundreds of watts per m2.  Intensive grow houses on Earth require active cooling. 
So you may have a cheap building, but if it requires constant active cooling and a radiative cooling system, it may not be the safest place to live.



« Last Edit: 10/12/2016 11:43 AM by lamontagne »

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #12 on: 10/12/2016 11:50 AM »
I think that you will just NEED to build your habitats from local resources. Bringing them in one piece or in components from Earth will be prohibitively expensive, you will need all the payload capacity you have for other things.

Well inevitably the first habitats on Mars will be Earth-made, but I refer to the first landings and the first teams to explore but then get down to the serious construction.  Once you have the equipment to shove regolith around and hopefully funnel it into 3D printing machines things open up.  The initial tin cans and inflatable tents might handle on the order of 3-10 people, whereas an actual city must house hundreds and eventually thousands onward.

My guess for the overall design of say a medium-sized settlement (or a very large base camp) with ~200 people would be the following:
1) Roomy but claustrophobic living space; no windows lots of dirt covering a 3D built structure.
2) Numerous garden areas, possibly domes, but primarily for plants to take advantage of natural sunlight.
3) Handful of metal nodes, such as airlocks or power systems, peaking out; mainly delivered from Earth but slowly becoming Martian-built.
In short, there would be lots of squat, building-sized mounds with greenhouses.

They would be this way because the safest landing sites probably will be in flat, boring areas with little else but the materials to build structures from.  No caves, lava tubes, or cliffs...just you, your machinery, and the dirt.  Hence why we might see slightly-boring-looking mounds for buildings on Mars...at least until you get a large enough population that starts barking for window space, then it may get more exotic.
The best would be a very boring site right next to a nice water cliff.  Always easier to have gravity on your side, and bringing down a cliff is easier than digging a hole.
Fortunately, there seems to be quite a few glaciers at interesting latitudes on Mars.  These glaciers may be the equivalent of river junctions on Earth; rare but that's where all the cities are/ will be.
After all, you just need a single adequate emplacement.


Offline lamontagne

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #13 on: 10/12/2016 11:55 AM »
There probably already is a thread about lava tubes, somewhere on the site?
Anyone have a link?  That could be amazing and spectacular.

Offline zodiacchris

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #14 on: 10/12/2016 11:56 AM »
Well, a naturally occurring fibre available on Mars would likely be the mineral asbestos. Once you have located a deposit you have to crush it to liberate the fibres. Great stuff, non flammable, great insulator for heat sources etc, but of course the carcinogenic properties when inhaled pretty much rule it out. :(

Offline uhuznaa

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #15 on: 10/12/2016 12:19 PM »
There probably already is a thread about lava tubes, somewhere on the site?
Anyone have a link?  That could be amazing and spectacular.

Lava tubes would be great, but you'd need to find one near water. The places with water (as pure as possible and as much as possible) is where you have to go to, there's no way around that.

Offline uhuznaa

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #16 on: 10/12/2016 12:35 PM »
Ice Dome Construction for Large Scale Habitats on Atmosphere Less Bodies

as attached with examples
Method only works at high altitudes on Mars.
You need to insulate the dome if you want to have above 0 temperatures inside.
I believe there is a limit to the altitude the ITS can land because it requires aerodynamic braking.  Do the two match up?
On the other hand, the mechanical characteristics of ice can be improved significantly by additives, to create a material similar to fiber reinforce plastics, Pykrete.  The same dome could be build from the outside, rather than from the inside, using hoses and a supply of fibrous material. 
Wouldn't be transparent, though, although perhaps translucent, depending on the fiber used.
What is the cheapest fiber than can be obtained/produced on Mars?

What is the heat balance of a Martian building?  Houses are not very energy intensive, but the heat load from an efficient plantation may be quite high, for example.  A greenhouse (or more aptly a grow house) in ice might be a significative challenge, at the lighting levels can reach hundreds of watts per m2.  Intensive grow houses on Earth require active cooling. 
So you may have a cheap building, but if it requires constant active cooling and a radiative cooling system, it may not be the safest place to live.

Thermal management will just be one of the problems you will have to solve. But if you're sitting in the midst of a glacier stretching for tens of miles and half a mile thick, some water coolant loops that dump the heat somewhere else (or heat your insulated fish pool) shouldn't be that hard. It's basically only slightly used energy, you will find a use for it...

Offline rsdavis9

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #17 on: 10/12/2016 01:38 PM »
Method only works at high altitudes on Mars.
ot be the safest place to live.

The Hellas glacier I thought was very low altitude and about 30-40 deg latitude.
It sounds like a great place for lots of water.
Great sun for power.
Low altitude for plenty of atmosphere.

Was also where they did the study to indicate glaciers under modest dirt overlay.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellas_quadrangle
« Last Edit: 10/12/2016 01:41 PM by rsdavis9 »
bob

Offline lamontagne

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #18 on: 10/12/2016 01:58 PM »
Ice Dome Construction for Large Scale Habitats on Atmosphere Less Bodies

as attached with examples
Method only works at high altitudes on Mars.
You need to insulate the dome if you want to have above 0 temperatures inside.
I believe there is a limit to the altitude the ITS can land because it requires aerodynamic braking.  Do the two match up?
On the other hand, the mechanical characteristics of ice can be improved significantly by additives, to create a material similar to fiber reinforce plastics, Pykrete.  The same dome could be build from the outside, rather than from the inside, using hoses and a supply of fibrous material. 
Wouldn't be transparent, though, although perhaps translucent, depending on the fiber used.
What is the cheapest fiber than can be obtained/produced on Mars?

What is the heat balance of a Martian building?  Houses are not very energy intensive, but the heat load from an efficient plantation may be quite high, for example.  A greenhouse (or more aptly a grow house) in ice might be a significative challenge, at the lighting levels can reach hundreds of watts per m2.  Intensive grow houses on Earth require active cooling. 
So you may have a cheap building, but if it requires constant active cooling and a radiative cooling system, it may not be the safest place to live.

Thermal management will just be one of the problems you will have to solve. But if you're sitting in the midst of a glacier stretching for tens of miles and half a mile thick, some water coolant loops that dump the heat somewhere else (or heat your insulated fish pool) shouldn't be that hard. It's basically only slightly used energy, you will find a use for it...
People who lives in meltable houses need to worry about heat ;-)
In a more serious vein (of underground water) coolant loops and piping can get expensive.  You can simply dump melted water into the atmosphere, where it will sublimate nicely enough.  Should just need a fairly small pool.  but you can't cool your ice house with liquid water, since it is necessarily hotter than the ice.  You would need to use salt water (brine), or a glycol.  then you will be using salt and recycling it, which can get intensive on a large scale.
Or you can use large arrays of piping, but large arrays of piping are extremely expensive, just talk to geothermal heat pump vendors...

Offline rsdavis9

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Re: Envisioning Amazing Martian Habitats
« Reply #19 on: 10/12/2016 02:06 PM »
People who lives in meltable houses need to worry about heat ;-)
In a more serious vein (of underground water) coolant loops and piping can get expensive.  You can simply dump melted water into the atmosphere, where it will sublimate nicely enough.  Should just need a fairly small pool.  but you can't cool your ice house with liquid water, since it is necessarily hotter than the ice.  You would need to use salt water (brine), or a glycol.  then you will be using salt and recycling it, which can get intensive on a large scale.
Or you can use large arrays of piping, but large arrays of piping are extremely expensive, just talk to geothermal heat pump vendors...

Well at least they could be below zero storage and play and refuge from radiation areas.
Also as mentioned above they should be able to be pressurized and provide a play area.
But above zero temperatures does provide problems.
bob

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