It’s a primary instinct to want the flag in the summit, to itch for things remote, to wish to sail forbidden seas… Going to Mars means starting again, the pursuit of an unknown hope for the birth of a new world. As any other, build from the roots, the simpler, the better.
Kloroplast Mars means the recover of the vernacular. The seek of a shelter, which could remind the idea of home in such a hostile red planet. Like the very first one, almost like a cave, having the chance of a big quiet space, a comfortable atmosphere while storms might dust outside.
It’s necessary to be efficient, performative and conscious of the lack of materials. Therefore, it is proposed a settlement strategy based on balloon construction, dealing with the size restrictions and the differential pressure issues at the same time. This system would combine the balloon structure with 3D printing robots, using the local regolith as the main material.
The robots solidify layer by layer the regolith structure around the balloons every time a cell is totally surrounded by other units. Once the shell is finished the balloon can be removed and placed on the following position to keep the settlement in expansion. Thus, to enlarge the construction less extra balloons are needed as time goes by and the inside space, it’s not an addition of capsules but a growing single cavity. A permanent in-progress space to enable a sense of forward-looking comunity.
Structure’s geometry imitates a cellular composition. As the balloons are made with a flexible material, the compression of those minimize the amount of material needed to fill the in-between gaps left in the corners. Furthermore, it generates self-stable poligonized shapes with no more than three edges per vertex.
The floor level is elevated to prevent the dust dunes to block the doors after the storms. On the rooftop, the geometry allows to retain the dust between the skylights so the appearance from above is almost negligible while from the surface it looks like a row of translucent bubbles. Those, placed where most of the light penetrates into the building, preserves the laboratories dedicated to plant farming and experimentation.
All in all, the structure becomes with time like a double surface made of Martian ground. A thin atmosphere where one layer protects from the hard weather conditions and the other enables life on the inside while exploration and terraformation is taking place step by step on the outside. Like the chloroplast cells of plants transform CO2 and light into O2 and energy, the settlement transforms sand into soil, dust into hope.