Living on the planet Mars will not be easy for humans at all. To achieve this, we will have to turn to technologies that will allow sustainable life in an extraterrestrial environment. The Red Planet is indeed cold and dry, and above all, it suffers from excessively high levels of radiation. In addition, one of the biggest difficulties comes from the fact that one can only travel between Earth and Mars only every two years. In this context, the architect and filmmaker Vera Mulyani set up the design and innovation platform Mars City Design.
During its existence, Mars City Design has organized the annual competition known as “ Mars City Design Challenges ” in which students from all over the world create Martian architectural designs with the help of experts. Mulyani gave the name “Marchitecture” to these designs.
For the year 2020, the competition was focused on the theme "Urban Farming", that is to say that the participants had to develop ideas and architectural innovations that could ensure food security for the settlers. But the condition was to go beyond what is basic and find new ideas based on the principle of Mars City Design.
Not just survive
According to the creator of Mars City Design, it's not just a matter of survival, but above all of being able to thrive in the long term. The infrastructures must therefore be well prepared before the arrival of the first inhabitants, and allow humans to settle in the long term,
Mulyani also indicated that to be able to succeed in inhabiting the planet Mars, it will be necessary to unite the efforts of each one and to work together. It is essential to collaborate to create the innovative solutions that will lead to a comfortable and productive life on the Red Planet.
The winners of the three categories
Thus, ten teams in total emerged winners of the competition for the year 2020. It was decided to divide the winners into three distinct categories.
The first category was Martian Agriculture Engineering and 4 winning teams were selected. The first place was obtained by the Justin's Mars Farm project which was submitted by Justin Pourkaveh, a thermal fluids engineer working in the aerospace industry.
The concept of Pourkaveh is primarily a food production system made up of interconnected modules. Each of these modules will provide a plantation area of 290 m², which will give a total of 1,450 m² for growing food. Each module will be fitted with windows and will be able, among other things, to regulate thermal conditions, the amount of incoming sunlight and humidity.
This is a concept based on advances in indoor agriculture, a practice that is increasingly widespread on Earth and is generally used to grow plants in inhospitable places. According to Pourkavah, each unit will be able to produce enough food to feed 9 people, which is about the size of a crew.
For the Design category, the first prize was awarded to the architectural engineer Mohamed Emad. His MarSpine project was inspired by the Voronoi structure of Lilypad, and it was designed as a closed loop system that will look to ISRU or In-Situ Resource Utilization for building materials, food, water. , energy or even shelter for the inhabitants.
When the MarSpine is viewed from above, it can clearly be seen that it looks like the lower part of Lilypad. It is a structure with a central branch which divides the whole into two sections provided with networks of "bronchioles" extending towards the edges.
From what is known, the structure will be 3D printed using local regolith combined with prefabricated carbon nanotubes to ensure strength and durability, as well as flexibility.
The outer casing will be covered with polytetrafluoroethylene which will reduce friction with dust, provide additional protection against UV rays, and ensure the stability of the internal temperature. On the cultivation side, MarSpine will be able to support three types of agricultural systems: planting earth seeds directly in the soil of Mars, aquaponics where plants grow in water with different types of fish, and hydroponics where plants grow without use soil.
The third category is the Marchitecture Category, and the first place was obtained by Guiseppe Calabrese from Austria and Italy.
Its concept is called Sprout and it stems from the idea that agriculture on Earth involves the destruction of the natural environment and the mass production of waste. The Calabrese system will thus transform waste into a sustainable agricultural process and into energy.
At the center of the infrastructure there will be the Green Power House which is a concept invented by Michael Smith and which imitates nature to meet human needs. These are robots that will 3D print building blocks resembling Lego pieces using material from the delta in Jezero Crater, extracted basalt fibers, and bioplastics.
When the Power House is operational, it will be able to transform waste into resources and generate electricity using three types of natural reactors. Robots will also create walls for the cylindrical greenhouses and housing modules. Other robots will then plant in the greenhouses and when the first inhabitants arrive, the plants will have had time to grow and will be ready to be harvested. The cycle will be closed since the plants will produce the biomass for the generator and the latter will produce the biochar, the fertilizers as well as the soil amendment.
So this is pretty much the kind of farm we will have on planet Mars in the future. The advantage of this kind of initiative also comes from the fact that we manage to develop concepts that can be used on Earth.