A new study reveals how humans could potentially colonize Mars and create a self-sustaining research base that could support manned missions for several years.
Scientists at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) came up with a multi-step plan, which involves sending a robot to the Red Planet to build the base, utilizing the planet’s natural resources to maintain it and sending a crew to its surface. The study has been accepted for publication in Acta Astronautica.
The researchers propose setting up a base at the north pole of Mars due to the natural resources in that region.
“The poles may pose more challenges in the beginning, but they are the best location for the long term since they harbor natural resources that we may be capable to use,” Anne-Marlene Ruede, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
Ruede continued: “We wanted to develop a strategy based on technologies that have been selected accordingly and outline a test scenario so that 20 years from now, astronauts will be capable to carry out this type of mission.”
Their plan follows a NASA competition calling for various teams to submit 3-D printed habitats that they trust could be utilized to colonize Mars in the future.
The research base would consist of three various modules, according to scientists, and is described as a “minimal living space.”
A dome made of polyethylene fiber and a 3-meter-thick layer of ice would cover the structure, giving it the appearance of an igloo.
“The dome would also represent an additional living space, provide a second barrier to protect the crew against radiation and micrometeoroids and help keep the pressure constant inside the base,” according to the study.
Additionally, researchers envision a crane system that would orbit the Red Planet to serve as a transfer point for goods between shuttles coming up from Earth.
However, before sending any humans to Mars, a robot crew would build the base and test all the available natural resources.
The researchers believe that the poles would be the most likely place to build a base, as traces of life are most likely to be found in
“layered deposits” of ice and dust near the poles.
“All that would make the research base self-sustaining for the long haul,” the study noted.