Building a house on Mars

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PostPosted: March 2, 2006 5:22 PM 

Eventually in the future, humans would go to live there on Mars.

Thinking that :
Esquimese people uses igloos, to live in. Some Asiatic people often uses desiccated mud huts to live in.
Most of us, often use concrete buildings to live in.
A question could arose:
What would look like an house on Mars?
It should be:
- high-tall skyscraper or flat-cupola?
- dust tight?
- iron or steel hard to resist the (eventual) falling meteorites: Do you have noticed how many craters are on Mars? I think the "atmosphere" is just not as "tight" enough to protect the "building" from these "falling stones"
- could it eventually sport windows?
- somebody thinks that it should have a particular shape?
- also could be interesting to know how the front door of such building could be...
Desegn architets are welcome!

Rolling Eyes Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


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PostPosted: March 2, 2006 6:25 PM 

Mario: For a whole bunch of reasons I expect everything will be underground.


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PostPosted: March 2, 2006 8:00 PM 

I agree with Ben.

I'm thinking lava tubes.


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PostPosted: March 3, 2006 11:28 AM 

Habitation will be underground for sure, but this would be cooler! Wink


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PostPosted: March 3, 2006 5:56 PM 

I agree Ben, but even underground one wouldn't be "safe" as well!
Craters are big on Mars, and one should dig very deep to attain a certain safety.
But I was thinking something "INTRINSECALLY SAFE" for some kind of peculiarity.
If you think on it, is not as easy as at first seems, to live -and stay safe- there, on Mars.
Don't forget that Mars is not exactly around the corner!!!
So I'll re-launch the "contest":
Is there any "intrinsecally safe" structure(of course accepting the compromise not being smashed like a fly), can be build on Mars?
C'mon Mars architects! This is your thread!
Very Happy


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PostPosted: March 3, 2006 6:37 PM 

The big challenge is to deal with the cosmic rays pounding to the surface of Mars.

My first thought is to make a huge deflector which mean that a very big
magnetic field have to be applied above the surface to bend those cosmic rays
away from being a direct threat to human.

An another way is to dug down to a safe level that these rays cannot hurt anyone.
This is more problematic, as these rays consists of very high energy particles
which is more difficult to fully protect humans in that way.

So what's the problem ??
Build a house which has both the magnetic deflection options, and also has some shielding
against direct cosmic rays. Simple ??

Well, I wouldn't say that.

r lewis

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PostPosted: March 3, 2006 7:32 PM 

I've said this before, but Ice would be a good building material on mars. It should be stable above about 70 degrees latitude, and aparently is stable even at the equator with an insulating layer of dust or dirt.

Mario commented that eskimos make igloos. In fact, a structure very similar to an igloo would work. Youc could use large ice blocks to build with, and you would nead floor, walls, and roof. I think a geodesic dome structure, in fact very similar to an igloo, maybe 10 to 30 m in diameter, would work well.

Ice provides a natural radiiation sheild too. You could seal the structure by "welding" the blocks together witha little bit of liquid water. At those temperatures the water would probably freeze on contact with the cie blocks.

Inside you could use natural frozen ice "foam" (aka snow) as an insulator, which could insulate the structure and provide interioir temperatures aproachin 0 celsius ( the melting point of ice). I'm not sure if a welded block structure like this could hold one full atmosphere of pressure, but it might hold 1/2 an atmosphere, which is almost livable.

You would probable want to add a layer of dirt or dust on the outside to inhibit sublimation, but anly losses du to sublimation can easily be replinished by pumping liquid water onto the top and letting it freeze in place. Basically no different from using a regular garden hose to spray water on your roof.

Sounds crazy? I think it would work. And, ocnsidering there appears to be a frozen sea near the equator, you have a virtually unlimited supply of a building material that is easy to work with.

Imagine a 10 m diameter igloo, with 1/2 m thick walls, with a pressurized interior to 1/2 atmosphere, and inside that, a regular extreme environment tent, like you would use for mountain climbing. The interior of the ice dome could be as warm as 0 c, and inside your tent it could be 5 or 10 degrees warmer than that, warm enough to survive, not much different from high altitude extreme expeiditions on earth.


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PostPosted: March 4, 2006 1:59 AM 

Does anyone have speculations, or links to speculations, of what subsurface temperatures would be on Mars? Would Mars be similar to Earth, in that the temperature below the surface is warmer than freezing temp of water? I'm trying to imaging the amount of heating that would have to occur during Martian nights.


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PostPosted: March 4, 2006 6:59 PM 

I think r lewis is right.

The first, most important problem is to have the building material already there. So water ice could be a good choice. Also, I know, that on mars there are large deposits of frozen CO2: I don't know if it behaves like Ice, and in which way it could be "cut" in blocks and "welded" in pieces.
This technology should be already known once there.

Second: Thermal isolation, air tight isolation.
Maybe a kind of polyurethane foam could be pumped inside and "squeezed" against the walls of "ice", to fix everything out in place. This could provide adeguate thermal isolation for (eventual) human beings living inside. An all-time space suit, weared all-day is unconfortable for long time staying...

Third: pressurization.
To live there, one should have breathable air to breath at adeguate pressure. This means air pressure (at least as low as the one we have 2000mt high atmospheric pressure on earth) against the walls.
This means Tons contantly pushing against the walls.
So, would be better is to build everithing under the Mars soil.
The thick ice, the foam should make the rest. All this not considering the air filtration.

Finally the doors & or (eventual) windows: Maybe there is no sense for them.

Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes


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PostPosted: March 6, 2006 10:30 AM 

mars homestead project


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PostPosted: March 6, 2006 4:59 PM 

Maybe I was a bit unhappy in my question:
I'm not seeking for sci-fi or imagination.
There's plenty of it everywhere on the net!
I was thinking into a serious approach of the problem starting from our actual tech capabilities!
For example, for me, it would be almost impossible to make any kind of excavations there: The transportation costs a caterpillar over there (ONE!) would be astronomical, not even taking into account the fuelling problem of the "beast"!!!
So, I think we should rely on a thing that could be put there "already built"!!
Also the necessity of building several rover-like machines, with the ability to interact with the environement, taking their own decision ON-SITE, self replicate, self repair, are the minimum effort, I think, needed, to prepare for an human landing over there!
But this will carry the discussion, automatically, on the sci-fi field.
So, returning with our feet on earth:
Would be possible to build a thing like an house on MARS???
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy


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PostPosted: March 9, 2006 2:01 PM 


As a designer in Architecture for many decades, I can tell you now that I have examined the many areas of the Malin pics of Mars since its beginning and can tell you some interesting things about building in an alien enviornment.

Frankly, those SF images are just that, images and imaginatative ones at that...nothing wrong or incorrect with those mind sets. They are required for the future, say 100 years from now.

The real fact is, it will be a difficult challenge to construct today on the Martian landscape with space-suits on!

The most important thing or principle in Architecture is the orientation of the specific structure on the site and its many relevent aspects surrounding the site for its use to take advantage of, and in my mind if one wants to go to Mars tomorrow then he has to be prepared to live and stay in existing caves or underground caverns...there is no cost to constructing these. But, they are protection from the harsh Martian elements like UV. You need thickness for UV.

Containment of the air supply, food-stuffs, waste and other life energy requirements are the first order of the day for the landing party. Can't get sick here, you may not make it back to earth if the food supply is contaminated by some mysterious bacteria that humans can't rectify with their bodily functions as we can cope with here on earth.

OK, they have landed, but now what?


This link will help in adjusting a mind-set for stimulation towards a goal of understanding space and its complexities on the human spacemen.

Mars is cold, damned cold, and in some places it can contain a temperature we are familiar with, as in shorts and a Tee-shirt, but this is for a very short period of the day. There is no oxygen anyway, no raw materials, no trees, perhaps no water either.

OK, easy now, we do not want to use terrestial building materials common to earth. SO, we use the metalurgical approach, with glass and steel or any other metal. Concrete will be prohibitive to non-existant in use. Sure there is sand, but what has to be CLEAN sand and lime and gravel and WATER!!!That takes special machinery to clean the stuff.

I am not putting a damper on your enthusiasim, just want to open your mind to the reality and strangeness of the Mars place.

I will input more later...

BTW>>>I was employed as a designer for Indain and Nothern Affairs and Development, Canada, and I can tell you that the last family igloo was constructed in 1967, filmed and documented. The government, in its wisdom, gave them wood houses to live in after that...don't get me going on this one either.
...however that is an interesting construction technique used for safety and to escape the northern climate at night time and its fast to shape the dome!



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PostPosted: March 11, 2006 5:21 AM 

This is one thing I have always wondered about. The frequency of meteorite impacts on other solar system bodies as compared to our planet Earth. How valuable is Earth's atmosphere in stopping the penetration of meteorite impacts on our planet as compared to other solar system bodies? How much different is the frequency of meteorite impacts on Earth as compared to other solar system bodies, due to location and gravity fields of the terrestrial bodies in our solar system? I have no idea, and wonder if anyone on this board, has some good info on this?

Does Mars location and less protective atmosphere, mean that it is impacted way more often than our planet Earth? Would we have to worry a lot more about the colonies on Mars or the Moon, in being impacted by a destructive meteorite?

Or does the geologic forces on Earth, hide the impacts of these meteorites, so that it is deceiving, and the frequency of meteorite impacts on Earth are the same as all the heavenly bodies in our solar system? Tungusta, was not that long ago, and I guess we were lucky it didn't strike a major metropolitan area, instead of the Siberian wilderness.

Does anyone know and have good data about my questions?


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PostPosted: March 14, 2006 5:01 PM 

HI dx, very, very interesting!

In fact, my approach was not from an "entusiastic" point of view: my intent was exactly the one you pointed out: the *real* feasability to stay there, using the CURRENT tech we have: spacesuits, and everithing related to preserve human life.
The fact, for example, to wear an all-time spacesuit is almost unreasonable, from my point of view.
So, I think we should "invent" a complete new tech for building or excavations down there.
We need motors, fuel, digger machines that could produce breathable air, food, a quick&dirty (?) recover for all people working there in case of accident...
Way too many things, I think, which are not actually within our reach.
Just because have to be "invented" literally from zero.
That's why, we should have the second-kind approach: the robots.
Machine autonomous enough to "prepare" the landing site to human arrival.
This also poses in my mind a *serious* question on our actual *real* tech developement capabilities, and for the near future missions.
Maybe, it's damned true, we're still not (enough) prepared to space...

anyone agree?

Mario Rolling Eyes


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PostPosted: March 15, 2006 2:48 PM 


hello Mario,
enthusiasim outweights reality in the process of getting and going and surviving on Mars. One would not be living on Mars, that is a philosophical and fundamental difference worthy of chat, later.

As an example>>>we LIVE on the earth, simple because we are a product of the earth and its environs. We can not take earth and put it on Mars! Therefore we must become Martians!!!!to live like a Martian, whatever that is, and no one knows for sure. There are various poisons and other unknowns to haunt us and perhaps teach us how to protect ourselves using earth methods and our sciences as we understand them today.

So, my presumption of habitat is to use metals and glass in the form of a spent (used) spacecraft hull. In fact, several of them. And in them would contain the essentials and consumables for mankinds' survival on Mars. His habitat, if you will, his living quarters while on the planet is a preassembled ship. He needs a resting place to be human on Mars.

These spent ships can accommodate the flight plan to tag along, if you will, beside the Mother ship, or the real Home Base ship that will not descend to the surface, but remain in orbit as the life line to the New Martians.

That way spacemen would only have to assemble, not construct, the pieces, a kit of parts similar to what they do now with the ISS in orbit just above our heads. They do not build the adjoining capsules in space, they merely attach it to the main body of the ISS. Then they enter the abode and discard the spacesuit! Voila, home away from home.(without gravity too, mind you)

I can see this approach as noted above, with some modifications to be acceptable and straight-forward, if we MUST get to Mars in a hurry. But, I see no need to rush it, the next set of robot explorers will have better equipement to analyze the Mars data for the survival of the New Martians at a later date.



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Reply: 15

PostPosted: March 20, 2006 9:45 AM 

Mario59 et al...>>>

Another method of construction is still available if not downright odd yet right on the money or the barrel-head, which ever you prefer. Spot-on is another.

Considering that Mars and the Moon are pock marked with craters of various sizes, that's depth and diameter, one can construct a glass and steel dome or shell over the diameter of the craters.

However, the first ones could be of pressurized fabric of one material or another. The floor and wall of the crater can easily be excavated to sqaure the perimeter wall with the dome curvature and a flat floor, thus creating a perimeter ledge for the dome frame. Getting in and out with air pressure gates is just a matter of design.

At some time in the design program, several floors may have to be constructed to add floor space for the various activities expected.


These 'crater-homes' could be the method of habitation yet to to realized.


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PostPosted: March 23, 2006 9:39 AM 

I think tent would work just fine Laughing


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PostPosted: March 23, 2006 4:18 PM 


'Tent'>>>what are you, out of your mind?

Do you honestly think that men from earth are going to Mars to pitch a 'tent' have got to be a very young, inexperienced reader of non-earthly events or pulling our legs!

This blog is for serious discussion only, can't you see that?

elaborate if you can!



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PostPosted: March 23, 2006 5:53 PM 

The one-piece-at-a-time approach is a good idea for the very first spacemen would go there to "stay".
It would be a good compromise from "building from scratch" and the finished building.
Anyway I can see still problems in the assembling of such "pieces", since they should be assembled by... hands???
Also a problem would be (eventual) emergency recovery. in case of accident.
I disagree the feasability of the use of a crater to create a pressurized enviro.
In fact, the idea of transporting there tons of glass, steel, etc. wouldn't find me enthusiastic...!
What's the average surface atmospheric pressure on Mars? To achieve a pressure of around (i.e.) 2000 m terrestrial equiv. I think we should use some kind of "hard" walls or celinings!!
But, to be honest, I could not imagine if it would be possible to human body, to survive -ON HEARTH- at mars surface equiv. pressure!!!
You could remember the movie "Mission to Mars" where a lonely astronaut remained on the planet's surface?
In that movie, there was a kind of "man-built-garden-under a tent" just outside of one of those landed spaceships to "make" the oxygen needed for respiration: there was only a tent to divide the external environement from the (oh my god!) respirable internal.
I can remember the "flap" of the tent under the martian "wind"!!!!
So it was supposed that, apart of the oxygen, the atmospheric pressure was enough!
OF COURSE IT WAS A MOVIE. and that's sci-fi.
But the idea of having the almost-right pressure outside, fiscinated me.
I wonder if it was a deliberated supposition of the movie director of it was laid over a (reasonable) supposition.

One day the Nasa director said into an inerview:'s not Nasa's assignement to send men in space... instead we can send there robotized probes...
Maybe he was true...
Mario Rolling Eyes


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PostPosted: March 23, 2006 7:15 PM 


There would have to be some substitutes for re-bar, but the rest is mostly there. Foam can be sent up in liquid form on robotic landers and expands to as much as 100 times it's liquid volume.


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PostPosted: March 24, 2006 4:30 PM 

correct, things like foam at the base level and the junction of the perimeter frame could undoubtly contain the atmosphere and pressure required for habitation.

My comment in 15 above is just another idea that springs from the Buckminister files for geodesic dome types, something all Architecture students study in history.

A great many series of same sized pipes and glass or fabric, fabric that is full of air to keep an insulated thermal effect and the glass portion for light can easily be done.

I can see this as feasible construction. After all just what in hell are our people doing there on Mars...they can't pick their noses in their spacesuits, so they might as well get on with it, and construct an enviornmnet they can use. Who care if it takes 3 months or more or less to construct, I mean erect.
That's what they are there not to entertain us!!!

They are not on a holliday or vacation, but need to survive on the simple yet effective shelters have to be devised.
This is one of them.


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