This scheme is set in the near future and focuses on the exciting challenges the very first “Martians” will face. The design outlines what our approach to building on Mars should be. The first Martian habitats will play a crucial role in the formation of a Martian society and in the future of the planet.
Mars, similarly to Earth has a very rich geological history but its surface hasn’t been contaminated or altered by humankind. We must be careful in how we colonise the planet so that we do not contaminate and destroy valuable areas of scientific interest. A settlement should have a “light touch” and be sensitive to its environment.
Eagle crater in Meridiani Planum was chosen for the location of the colony. It is one of the most thoroughly explored areas on the planet and as such is much safer than other sites on Mars. Erosion and sedimentation have heavily influenced its terrain. A constantly changing water level and underground water left their traces in the Stratigraphy of the area. Eroded cross-bedded sandstone is covered by layers of sand sediments which have built up over millions of years. After its landing, the Opportunity rover spent a long time photographing each rock within Eagle crater and transmitted the data to Earth. Scientists from all over the world have been using this information for years and has become the basis for a lot of our knowledge of the planet. Therefore, the main public space in the settlement will cover the crater and preserve it as a historical site. It will also allow scientists to examine it further in a pressurised environment.
A single-storey linear settlement ensures that inhabitants are able to look out and see the Martian landscape from every space to ensure immersion in the landscape, being able to keep track of time, and avoid disorientation. The colony consists of a series of inflatable “pods” with semi-transparent shells filled with water and CO2. That allows an abundance of light within every “pod”. The pods have organic shapes which are both structurally more suitable to the materials they are constructed of, and inspired by the organic and fluid shapes present in the region. The pods also provide a diverse living environment due to their various scales and shapes.
Each pod will be pressurised to 620mbar. O2, and CO2 levels will be carefully monitored through physiochemical LSS. Edible plants will be grown in almost all pods. They will provide not only food but also will contribute to the wellbeing of the Martians. With time the physiochemical LSS will be replaced by a bioregenerative one.
Addressing the numerous psychological and social issues of living on Mars through architecture will be even more important for its success than ensuring physical survival. Martian society has to develop its own identity, way of life and detach itself from Earth and the Terrestrial life in order to avoid becoming a dystopian society. The settlement provides carefully considered spaces for social interaction and varying living environment.