Inflatable house designed for life on Mars

An inflatable building that explores how people would potentially live on Mars has been built in the British city of Bristol. 

The public art project explores what a house on Mars could be like, and aims to help us reassess how we live on Earth.

Artists Ella Good and Nicki Kent have spent 7 years bringing together space scientists, architects, engineers, designers and even school children to think about how we can live more sustainably.

"This is a place for people to think about future living and how the scenario of life on Mars relates to their lives on Earth," Ella Good told Reuters on Bristol waterfront.

"On Mars you'd have to live on a really small, resourceful community. You'd have to fix everything when it breaks, you'd have to really consider every aspect of your daily lives. So it's a place for thinking about all of those questions," she said.

A team of experts in creating buildings for extreme environments, including Antarctica, helped develop the design, taking into consideration transportation of materials to the red planet and what is already there.

They settled on a design incorporating an inflatable structure above ground that will be filled with rubble, or regolith, and an underground level making use of lava tubes that occur in the crust of the Red Planet.

"The key thing about when you're living on Mars is you need your buildings to be completely airtight because the atmosphere outside is essentially poisonous," said Hugh Broughton, principal architect on the project and designer of the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI Research Station.

"Above ground would be a living room, this gold inflatable section that you see behind us. And that would be filled with a homemade concrete made of the water and crusty earth that you get on Planet Mars that would then go hard and protect you from the rays that exist around you and we're essentially using the inflatable structure as a framework for our concrete enclosure."

The two-story 53-square-meter (570 square-feet) house is powered by solar panels and designed to cope with average temperatures of -63 degree Celsius.

It has a hydroponic living room where occupants are surrounded by plants to aid relaxation and support a healthy diet. 

"So the idea is that it should be somewhere pleasant for someone to live, somewhere where we can use the scarce resources on Mars to really be able to not only exist but to live a happy and productive life," said Dr Bob Myhill, an Earth and Planetary Sciences expert at the University of Bristol, who worked on NASA's InSight Mission.

"I think there's a lot of potential there to have a more Earth-like lifestyle than we might imagine," Myhill told Reuters.

The lower level of the prototype is surrounded by a hoarding with details about the project and illustrations. On Mars, the underground level would house the environmental control room with all the life support systems powering the house, two compact bedroom ‘pods’; along with a shower and a ‘Martian loo’ with low water use designed by the winners of NASA's Lunar Loo competition. 

The project will open to the public at the end of August until the end of October.

(Source: Reuters) 

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