Moving to Mars: designers reveal their visions of how people will live on the red planet
Sci-fi writers have long dreamed of turning Mars into a more earth-like planet for future colonization.
From Mars’ first photographic fly-by on the Mariner 4 spacecraft in 1965 to NASA’s Orion project and Elon Musk’s SpaceX business, bringing people to the Red Planet has become one of the greatest challenges and concerns of our time .
But the conditions on Mars are deeply hostile to humans. It is too cold to hold water and there is no ozone layer to shield against UV radiation.
This means that sending people to live there will not only be a new frontier for science, but also for design.
Every detail of this extraordinary venture must be planned – from the journey that takes around seven months to the consideration of what we will wear, food and shelter when we arrive there.
Europe’s ExoMars Rover will be launched in March with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Pictured, an artist’s impression of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and its entry, landing and descent module
The role that design will play in the journey of humanity to the Red Planet is investigated in an exhibition entitled ‘Moving to Mars’, which runs until 23 February 2020 in the Design Museum in London.
It features more than 200 exhibitions, including original objects and materials from NASA, ESA, SpaceX, Raymond Loewy, Chesley Bonestell plus new assignments from responsible design company RÆBURN, Anna Talvi and Konstantin Grcic.
“The interesting thing about going to Mars is that it’s a total design project,” Eleanor Watson, curator of Moving to Mars, told MailOnline.
“Every aspect of the mission and life on the planet must be thought through, which means that a large number of designers work on the subject in very different ways.
“In the exhibition, we manage this by looking at the different phases of our probable road map to Mars, from the journey, to survival on the planet in the immediate, to possible results in terms of the planet’s long-term future , and using each of these phases to see what designers can bring to the conversation. ”
In an exclusive position for MailOnline, Mrs. Watson offers her choice of the most innovative designs in the exhibition – from the first space suit designed for Mars to a 3D-printed Mars house and fashion made from space blankets.
1: 1 Mars Habitat, Hassell, 2019
London-based architectural firm Hassell has created a full prototype Mars habitat as part of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge.
The 3D-printed shell structure is made from Mars regolite and contains lightweight inflatable pods that are prefabricated on earth.
Internal spaces include a state-of-the-art laboratory, a fully equipped workplace with digital manufacturing facilities, a hydroponic greenhouse and bedrooms with fitness facilities and immersive virtual reality platforms.
London-based architectural firm Hassell has created a full prototype Mars habitat as part of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge
“We have a huge number of architectural proposals in the exhibition, which present different concepts for the type of house in which we live on Mars,” Watson said.
“Although it is nice to see the overall shape of these buildings, we thought it would be even better if visitors could step in, so we worked with Hassell architectural firm to produce a full version of one module of their Mars habitat proposal to produce.
‘It is really interesting to be able to see how detailed a Mars habitat must be, from the radiation shielding to the flexible storage systems inside.
‘A detail that I particularly like about Hassell’s proposal is the use of bamboo for the floors and planks.
Bedrooms in the Hassell Mars habitat contain fitness facilities and immersive virtual reality platforms. Bamboo surfaces provide warm textures and make them feel more homely
‘After conversations with people who had spent time in extreme, closed environments, the architects discovered that something that people really miss is a change in texture.
‘These spaces are usually very functional, with a plastic and metal interior that is easy to clean and maintain, but people need to be encouraged and generally appreciate having warm textures in their homes.
‘Bamboo is perfect for this, because it grows extremely fast, has a high tensile strength and can be used for a variety of home furnishings.
“The idea is that astronauts take a few bamboo plants with them, grow them in their living environment, and then cut and use them to make furniture if needed.”
The 3D-printed shell structure is made of Mars regolite and contains lightweight inflatable pods that are prefabricated on earth
Map of Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli, 1877
The exhibition also includes several maps of Mars by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in the late 1870s.
“No person has influenced our perception of Mars more than the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli,” Watson said.
‘He transformed the planet from an abstract red dot in the sky into a place, a destination, by publishing a series of highly detailed maps, the original manuscript of which we have in the exhibition.
“Schiaparelli famously described the dark lines that he saw on the surface of the planet as” canali, “which was rather disastrously translated as” channels “rather than” channels “and led many of the Western world to believe that there were intelligent creatures on Mars.
“The idea was that the planet was slowly drying up and that the people of Mars had built a system of canals to get water from the poles to irrigate the rest of the planet – whether they were successful was under discussion.”
Schiaparellis described the dark lines on the surface of the planet as “channels,” which many people misinterpreted as signs of intelligent beings on Mars
The ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover, European Space Agency, is underway
The exhibition also includes a full prototype of the ExoMars rover from the European Space Agency, known as Bridget.
Bridget has formed much of the basis for the Rosalind Franklin rover – the first Mars rover specifically designed to find evidence of the life of Mars, past or present.
“The best part of working on the Mars exhibition has come into contact with some fantastically talented and interesting people, who have been very generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise with us,” Watson said.
“One of the most important is the staff of the European Space Agency, who lent us a full model of the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover, the next rover that will be sent to Mars in the spring of 2020.
Bridget is a full prototype of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin, who is looking for signs of extraterrestrial life on the red planet
The model is exhibited alongside a series of three technical prototypes showing the different types of locomotion that were tested during the development of the rover
“The rover is sent to find traces of past life on the planet and will perform a series of experiments using the nine built-in tools.
“The model is exhibited alongside a series of three technical prototypes that show the different types of propulsion that were tested during the development of the rover, giving you an idea of how difficult it is to design something that can safely and reliably cross the earth’s surface to travel .’
NDX-1 pack, Dr. Pablo de Leon, underway
As part of the exhibition, NDX-1 is being shown for the first time, the first prototype space suit designed specifically for use on Mars.
It is made to withstand the debilitating conditions of the planet, while soft fabric joints improve mobility compared to the suits used on the moon.
“Another striking exhibition for me is the NDX-1 space suit developed by Dr. Pablo de Leon of the University of North Dakota,” Watson said
“Dr. de Leon has been working at the space suit laboratory for several years to develop the suit for NASA, and is producing a highly developed prototype of the suit that astronauts are likely to wear on the surface of Mars.
The NDX-1 space suit is made to withstand the debilitating conditions of the planet and has soft fabric joints to improve mobility
“I think it’s interesting how much it reminds of the suits that were worn during the Apollo missions, but with some fundamental differences.
‘The suit is lighter and offers more freedom of movement (crucial when conducting experiments).
“The helmet has an extra-wide visor to widen the field of vision and the fabric of the suit is designed to withstand the damaging effects of dust from Mars – a poisonous, sharp and sticky substance called regolith.”
From faeces to food, Lydia Kallipoliti, 2019
As her last highlight of the exhibition, Watson chose a project by architect and engineer Lydia Kallipoliti, which depicts a Mars colony as a ‘digestive habitable machine’.
In her designs, human excrement is used to power combustion equipment and the biological parts of the system that they inhabit.
“Whether you want to go to Mars or not, or even think that humanity should go all the way there, there are a large number of lessons that can be learned from designing for the Red Planet that have direct and important applications here on Earth said Watson.
“One of the most important of these is sustainability, because the limited useful load means that every resource brought to Mars must be reused and recycled forever.
The huge Lydia Kallipoliti infographic shows what you need to do to create a closed loop system in a Mars habitat
‘Having a zero-waste lifestyle on Mars is not’ something fun ‘, as we think here on earth, it is a matter of life and death.
‘With that in mind, we commissioned the architect Lydia Kallipoliti to produce this huge infographic that shows what you should do to create a closed loop system in a Mars area.
‘All inputs and outputs – from the oxygen you breathe in, the carbon dioxide you breathe in, the food you consume, the stools and urine you produce, your sweat, your body heat – must be perfectly summed to create a viable ecosystem to create.
“It’s an incredibly complicated exercise and one of the key challenges for future Mars missions, but it helps us to appreciate the abundance of resources we have here on Earth and hopefully as a reminder that we need to become more intelligent using what we have . “
The ‘Moving to Mars’ exhibition can be seen until 23 February 2020 in the Design Museum in London.