Now the astronauts can live a month rather than days in Mars as NASA designs ice home for the astronauts. NASA experts said the first explorers on Mars may build their homes using ice beneath their feet to protect themselves from harsh weather of Mars.
According to NASA, the surface of Mars has extreme temperature and the planet’s atmosphere does not provide the protection from high-energy radiation. So, the future Mars explorers will need a home to protect themselves from the environment of the Red Planet.
The researchers of NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia said after many speculations they decided the best element to build Mars’ home is ice, “Mars Ice Dome”.
Langley senior system engineer, Kevin Vipavetz 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” is a large inflatable torus, a shape similar to an inner tube that is surrounded by a shell of water ice.
NASA’s Eric Gillard wrote in a post on NASA’s website that the design of the mars home has several advantages- it is lightweight and it can be deployed and transported with simple robotics then filled with water with simple robotics before the crew arrives.
Water in the Mars ice home can be converted into rocket fuel for the Mars Ascent Vehicle. So the structure also could serve as a storage tank so the next crew could refill that.
Another advantage is water as it is rich in hydrogen and an excellent shielding material for galactic cosmic rays. Gillard wrote many areas of Mars have abundant water ice just below the surface.
Kevin Kempton of Langley Research Centre said “After months of travel in space, when you first arrive at Mars and your new home is ready for you to move in, it will be a great day.”
The NASA post said the biggest risk of long stays on Mars is the galactic cosmic rays. This high-energy radiation can pass right through the skin, damaging cells or DNA along the way that can mean an increased risk for cancer later in life or acute radiation sickness.
The design of the home maximises the thickness of ice above the crew quarters. It would reduce the radiation exposure, also allow the light to pass through the ice.
Kempton said, “All of the materials we’ve selected are translucent, so some outside daylight can pass through and make it feel like you are in a home and not a cave.”
Langley researcher Sheila Ann Thibeault said, “The materials that make up the Ice Home will have to withstand many years of use in the harsh martian environment, including ultraviolet radiation, charged-particle radiation, possibly some atomic oxygen, perchlorates, as well as dust storms – although not as fierce as in the movie ‘The Martian’.”
The experts who develop the systems for extracting resources on Mars said it would be possible to fill the habitat at a rate of one cubic metre per day. That would allow the Ice Home to be filled in 400 days.
To manage the temperature at indoor a layer of carbon dioxide gas is required as insulation between the living space and the shielding ice. Like water carbon dioxide is also available on Mars.