Urja

Concept Design for living on Mars

Lund University with NASA

This project started off with a 2-week study trip to Houston, USA as a collaboration between Lund University and NASA.

We were given access to the "Lunar & Planetary Institute" and attended a talk with astronauts from 4 different countries at the "University of Houston" about their experiences in space.

 

Inspired by the gigantic "Skylab" space station during our visit to the "Space Center Houston". It had my interest piqued when I found out about the mutiny that took place on it in 1973.

I got an insight into the personal experiences of astronauts about their tasks, free time, how they felt, and what they loved to stare at from the little window.

Viewing the photos in person was more immersive than seeing them on a computer screen. The photographic timeline of events more than 50 years ago gave me goosebumps. How incredible it must be to see the vast expanses of space from a tiny cabin.

Therefore, this awe & excitement inspired me to design the next experience for future explorers. As a student in Sweden confined to closed spaces during its long & cold winters, relating to their expeditions was easy.

-GOAL-

Recreating this experience
on Mars

WITH "COELUX"

Unlike other lighting solutions that mimic the sunlight colors, "CoeLux" recreates the science behind sunlight and its shine with pin-sharp shadows. (as seen on the left)

 

With this, we can create stress-free habitats despite the state of the weather outside, and simultaneously give a wider perception of space.

Needs & Constraints

 

  • Maximum habitat diameter of 9m
    due to launch vehicle size limitations ~ inflatable type

  • High-quality lighting systems
    to normalize sleeping-cycle and improve well-being

  • Redundant facilities
    for high-preparedness during emergencies

  • Lightweight furniture
    for makeshift designs to reduce transportation weight

  • High resolution and large size displays
    to help conform to long term stay in the habitat

  • Plantation
    to stimulate seasonal changes akin to Earth

IDEATING

& Visualizing scenarios

Configurable spaces
for privacy and socializing

Minimum logistics

Localized regolith cover

Integrated life-support systems

FINAL
RENDERS

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Redundant & Independent

Designed to be robust with the help of regolith cover and powered by a solar panel that generates 38KWh/day.

But Wait!
The power consumption of the lighting system along with 4 large display units would be equivalent to 5KW!
Currently available portable power resources cannot provide that amount, hence, something had to be done.

Enter Thermal Expansion

 

The average temperature variation on Mars every day is around 78 °C (108 °F)

With the right choices of gaseous mixtures, the thermal expansion could be used to do work. For instance, to pump out the well-speculated ground-water that could further be used to generate electricity.

 

This balloon system would appear as if they were the lungs of the planet, expanding and contracting with every day that passes.

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Not so stretchy at freezing temperatures!

 

Available elastic materials will not last long in the freezing Martian temperatures.
Hence, we require a solution made out of rigid materials and the geothermal gradient of Mars could help us find a workaround solution. With a 
combination of the refrigeration cycle and thermocouple principle by using an array of radiators, we could extract useful energy from the vast temperature difference between the surface and sub-surface.

This system would also use lesser space, unlike the balloon that would have to be hundreds of meters in size.

Meeting energy requirements for habitats will be the biggest challenge for future explorers as every task is going to be energy-dependent.

This is why the drastic temperature variation on Mars provides a unique opportunity to send experiments with a rover/lander to get a better picture of the feasibility of this concept.

Could the renewable source of energy on Mars come from its thermal properties?

Exhibited at 
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston