MIT Team Wins Mars City Design Contest for ‘Redwood Forest’ Idea
A future Mars City is a hot topic of debate nowadays. How should that Mars city be like? What should it be comprised of? And all sorts of other similar questions. Anyway, during the 2017 international Mars City Design Competition, a team of architects and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has won first prize in designing the habitat that could one day be located on the Red Planet.
Sponsored by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the competition asked the participants to come up with some truly creative ideas and solution for all the problems a future Mars city might encounter. Like all other previous competitions, this one aimed to resolve the issue of building a livable and sustainable space on Mars, from both what little resources the colonists could bring with them, as well as the resources found on the Red Planet itself.
Known as the Redwood Forest, MIT’s winning design is actually a group of ‘tree habitats,’ of sorts that are connected to each other through a system of tunnels called ‘roots.’ These roots provide safe access and transportation of people and materials from one habitat to the other, without having to be exposed to the harsh surface conditions of Mars.
Each dome will be able to house 50 people, with the intention of building some 200 of them. This means that this Mars City could be home to roughly 10,000 colonists. Not all of the structures will serve the same function, however. Some of them will be used as public spaces, for both people and plants alike, while other domes will be for private habitation. Water will be collected from Mars’ northern hemisphere – where most of it is collected.
“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life,” MIT postdoctoral researcher Valentina Sumini said in the statement. “Designing a forest also symbolizes the potential for outward growth as nature spreads across the Martian landscape,” Sumini added.
“Every tree habitat in Redwood Forest will collect energy from the sun and use it to process and transport the water throughout the tree, and every tree is designed as a water-rich environment,” George Lordos, a Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics doctoral student who worked on the project, said in the same statement.
Each of the 200 domes will be fitted with soft cells that will be filled with water which will act as a buffer from the outside radiation, manage heat loads and supply water to both fish and produce farms. These domes will also be fitted with solar panels so as to generate electricity.
Nevertheless, this sort habitat can work equally as well here on Earth, in places that are currently unhabitable for humans – places like in high altitudes, the bottom of the ocean, or the middle of the desert.
“It is not enough to just travel to Mars and survive; now we must develop a way in which we can sustainably live and love on Mars,” the competition’s website reads. “It is essential that we call on a new generation of thinkers and innovators to make this a reality.”