NASA Engineers Planning to Build Ice House on Mars: Report
NASA engineers are planning to build ice house on Mars as per suggestions shared by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Planet Mars will be challenging mission for NASA and it would be interesting to see what solutions scientific community can offer to astronauts to stay safely on Mars. The Red Planet has extreme temperatures and the atmosphere doesn’t provide adequate protection from high intensity radiation on Mars. Scientists at NASA have suggested Ice house as an effective technique for astronauts to stay on Mars.
NASA added that ice house design is one of the many designs they are considering for Mars project. The concept offers large inflatable dome covered by a thick shell of ice. High intensity radiation is a major risk factor for astronauts planning for first Mars mission. The NASA post regarding Ice House Design for Mars added that the idea came from a team working at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
NASA team added that it will be easy to transport the lightweight shell which can be deployed by robots. Then, it can be filled with water in the columns. Ice will offer protection against radiation and could also insulate astronomers from extreme temperature on the Red Planet.
Another idea is to use an underground base. However, setting up an underground station would require strong robots to be transported to the Red Planet before astronauts can arrive at the planet. The requirements for long term residence of astronauts also call for a larger space so that they can perform experiments indoor, without need of pressure suits.
High radiation on Mars can lead to acute radiation sickness. Prolonged exposure could also lead to serious diseases like cancer, later in life.
NASA post regarding the project informed, “The project was competitively selected through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) Center Innovation Fund to encourage creativity and innovation within the NASA Centers in addressing technology needs. This is just one of many potential concepts for sustainable habitation on the Red Planet in support of the agency’s journey to Mars.”
Other than NASA, many private and international space agencies are also working on developing technologies for future Mars missions. The mission to the Red Planet will surely be challenging but it will be open up a new era in space travel for mankind.
“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’,” said Langley researcher Sheila Ann Thibeault.
In addition to identifying potential materials, a key constraint for the team was the amount of water that could be reasonably extracted from Mars. Experts who develop systems for extracting resources on Mars indicated that it would be possible to fill the habitat at a rate of one cubic meter, or 35.3 cubic feet, per day. This rate would allow the Ice Home design to be completely filled in 400 days. The design could be scaled up if water could be extracted at higher rates.
Additional design considerations include a large amount of flexible workspace so that crews would have a place to service robotic equipment indoors without the need to wear a pressure suit. To manage temperatures inside the Ice Home, a layer of carbon dioxide gas would be used as in insulation between the living space and the thick shielding layer of ice. And, like water, carbon dioxide is available on Mars.