ECOSYSTEM : Mars
TEAM MEMBERS : Nicolas Goulet et William Frost
Novam Domum: Taming the Red Planet
To successfully colonise where no man has gone before, the use of extraterrestrial resources needs to be a priority for future explorers. Unless a utopian economic future as seen in Star Trek awaits us, space travel and colonization cannot be undertaken using only Earth materials because it will simply cost too much. Clever ways of harvesting resources for construction and survival are essential in a desolate and unforgiving solar system, even if you just want to go to Mars, which has no surface water, a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, heavy radiation doses and temperatures ranging from 30 to -140 oC.
Our vision for a Martian colony is to build self-sustaining communities that blend in with the Martian environment. Our design for a community incorporates a central, wide tower surrounded by four smaller habitation structures linked together by surface and underground tunnels alike. The central structure would operate as a control, logistics, research and recycling center as well as having education and healthcare spaces. The smaller habitations will each provide living quarters on upper floors and underground floors while the lobby and remaining underground floors are designated as recreational, farming and utilities spaces respectively. Vegetation will be a dominant feature of the interior of these habitats to improve air quality and overall appeal of the locale. Additionally, climates in the agriculture sections will vary for each habitat, increasing the diversity of the crops produced. Diverse types of small animals, whether it be fish, chicken or others, will also be grown underground.
Using the water-ice resource detected by the MRO satellite in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars a few meters underground, our colonization plan consists of settling the perimeter of this ice reservoir estimated to contain as much water as Lake Superior. Extraction of this water will provide an initial supply for the colonizers as well as to serve as a reactant with the abundant carbon dioxide of Mars to form a densified methane-oxygen propellant, which can be used for rocket fuel. The flat landscape of this region will also facilitate landing and takeoff of spacecraft. The construction of habitats will also use local resources. The combination of Martian soil and sulfur dioxide, both being abundant on the planet, will be used to create Martian concrete. This will be used to build the outer layers of each structure of the colony while also protecting life inside from radiation coming from our sun and space. Additionally, energy requirements for the colony will initially be supplied by nuclear energy while renewable energy technologies are installed. We expect that solar and nuclear will be the predominant sources of energy for the colony.
In the end, this design is meant to offer a new home (novam domum) for humanity in the form of a functional and ecological building complex which maximizes the use of Martian resources to limit the overall cost of colonization efforts.