Futuristic Martian home on show at Greenwich observatory
A futuristic Martian home based on latest scientific knowledge and technical concepts has been put on display at the Royal Observatory Greenwich for visitors to take a glimpse into what life would be like on the Red Planet a few decades from now.
The home, a spherical structure about four metres in diameter is covered with a thick layer of red bricks as expected of real Martian habitats.
“This is an accurate simulation of what real Martian astronauts might be living in when they go to Mars perhaps 20 or 30 years from now,” said Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in London.
“The Mars home is designed to protect the astronauts from the very harsh conditions on the surface and it has a very thick covering of bricks made of Martian regolith, Martian soil, mixed with binding agents and then baked to form these bricks, which form a very good protection against the cold temperatures and the very high radiation environment on the Martian surface.”
The launch of the Greenwich Mars home corresponds with the start of National Geographic’s new docu-drama ‘Mars’, which features similar technology. Kukula hopes the audience will be inspired by the show, which premieres this Sunday, to come and experience a taste of Mars first hand.
“One of the reasons I am really excited to have the show home here at the Royal Observatory is that we get a lot of young visitors, lot of children and they are exactly the right generation to be the first people who actually do go to Mars,” Kukula said.
“Maybe one of the kids who get inspired by the show home at the Royal Observatory, could be the first person to set foot on Mars.”
The house, built by Cardiff-based company Wild Creations, is fitted with mock-ups of some cutting edge devices that are currently being developed by Nasa and other research institutions to sustain the crew on the unforgiving planet.
“We would have a machine in the basement called Moxie, that’s a device that sucks in the Martian atmosphere, strips off the carbon from the carbon dioxide and leaves you with breathable oxygen,” explained writer Stephen Petranek, whose book ‘How We’ll Live on Mars’ inspired not only the National Geographic project but also the Greenwich Mars home.
“You would also have another machine inside called Wavar that sucks in the Martian atmosphere and removes the water from it.”
However, Petranek points out that while the Greenwich Mars home is covered with 60cm of bricks made of simulated Martian soil, the actual houses on Mars would have shielding eight times as thick.
“You will have extremely thick walls and there will be no windows,” Petranek said. We will have light tubes bringing in sunlight but not too much solar radiation, which is something you need to be concerned on Mars because the atmosphere is only one hundredth as thick as it is on Earth so you don’t have this absorbing blanket of atmosphere that blocks solar rays and at the same time you don’t have the magnetosphere that we have on Earth.”
The Mars home at Greenwich observatory will be open until 16 November.
Read our interview with Stephen Petranek about terraforming of Mars and why SpaceX is likelier to lead the first mission than Nasa.