The aim of ‘project DUTY’ is to propose a prototypical self-sufficient settlement on Mars, with the pioneer unit located in the largest recognised impact basin, Utopia Planitia (Viking 2’s landing site), capable of sustaining life, health, sanity and activity of its inhabitants, while nurturing the idea of constant growth and harmonious integration into the planet’s tissue, deeply rooted in science and technology.
With its form derived from research of figures such as Frei Otto, Buckminster Fuller or Étienne-Louis Boullée, a basic module is a self-assembling 4-person unit designed to utilize maximum potential space. It consists of three segments: living quarters (cabins, washing places and toilets), functional segment (storeroom, comms room, ambulatory and lab) and social segment (kitchen, dining room and common room). The unit is encircled by a running track ellipse minimising threat of motor disorders.
This module is to be further extended by adding additional units comprising specific funtion, such as a greenhouse module, virtual reality module, 3D-printing module, sick-bay/isolation ward module and others, according to current need.
In order to reach maximum feasability, basic componets (developed from existing extreme environments equipment such as Mavericks HEIMPLANET) are stacked and transported in form of flat plates: plate of self-inflating pontoon (coated with epoxy resin and a layer of fiberglass), plate of self-assembling skeleton-frame which encloses it and a plate of carbon dioxide detector-filled outer membrane. Pontoon, defining the actual space of a module, has walls divided into two layers: the first filled with a mixture of gases including argon, blocking UV while providing reasonable thermal insulation, the second with water mixed with Spirulina and Chlorella algae, both scientifically proven to cope with radiation. Carbon dioxide detectors placed on the outer membrane are filled with calcium oxide. During Martian dust storms the cone-resembling form utilizes pyramid aerodynamics effect. In contact with fast moving air filled with carbon dioxide (approximately 96% of Mars’s atmosphere), detectors allow for gas diffusion, while simultaneously provoking capillary action from the water-filled layer of the pontoon, resulting in following chemical reactions:
CaO+H2O -> Ca(OH)2
Ca(OH)2+CO2 -> CaCO3 + H2O
Resulting calcium carbonate solidifies in the dust storm, hence contributing to formation of a solid, natural outer shell of the module, further blending the form into the landscape.
Nervous breakdowns in connection with absence of natural light, claustrophobia or communication delays are common in space. Analysis of cases such as MARS-500 experiment led to design decisions aimed at reducing risk of emotional and psychological trauma. Public and private spaces interweave, as corridors are reduced, constricting possibilities of isolation while still maintaining privacy. Thanks to an elongated chimney, actual light is filtered and transferred into the inside of the central area. Every crewmember is also equipped with a personalised virtual reality set projecting an unique pet, as animals are well-known to relieve stress and tension. Also, one of the first suggested extension modules is a VR module, capable of transporting its user to familiar, calming environments of Earth.