You are on page 1of 98

Benefits of Modified Breathing Air for Spacecraft and Planetary Habitats

I. Kotliar; A. Prokopov

Residents of high altitude demonstrate normal physiological characteristics and show increased vitality and lesser morbidity.
Subjects acclimatized to a low O2 (hypoxic) environment (corresponds to 14.5-11% O2 at the sea level) exhibited enhanced
physical endurance and increased resistance to stress-inducing and damaging factors and accelerated recovery in a variety of
conditions. Hypoxic stimulation reactivates the O2 saving genetic program, which is active in all mammal cells during
embryonic development, when O2 partial pressure in the uterus is comparable to that in the high mountains.

CO2 deficiency (hypocapnia) is a regular component of general stress reaction and is harmful for normal physiological
functions. Positive effects of moderately increased CO2 (physiological hypercapnia) are well documented. CO2 has
direct antioxidative action, suppressing production of superoxid-anion radicals in the mitochondria, and neutralizing the
highly-aggressive radical peroxynitrit.
Application of normobaric moderately hypoxic-hypercapnic environment in manned space exploration has following
biological benefits:

1. Adaptation to hypoxia result in significant enhancement of general stress-tolerance and improves general health,
which increase operational reliability of crew.
2. Adaptation to hypoxia economizes oxidative metabolism, with significant reduction both of O2 and food
consumption, but without productivity decline or health hazard. It can have a special value in emergency and in
long-termed interplanetary space missions, where amount of life-supporting resources is limited.
3. Inhalation of air with O2 concentration 8.5-10% is proven to induce radioprotective effect against X-rays and γ-rays.
This effect finds application in cancer radiotherapy for protection of healthy tissues and can be used by astronauts
for short-time radioprotection in urgent situations.
4. Hypercapnic atmosphere in the greenhouse result in significant increase of plant productivity.

It is well recognized that the technical objectives of advanced life support system for long duration space and planetary
missions must include technologies that significantly reduce hazards, improve operational performance and operational
reliability of the crew, as well as promote self-sufficiency, and minimize the expenditure of resources. Technology must
be developed to provide effective countermeasures to deconditioning effects of zero gravity.

Many of these objectives would be achieved by providing inside a space ship or planetary habitat a modified gaseous
environment with moderately reduced oxygen and increased nitrogen and carbon dioxide, that combines both fire-
preventive and health-promoting properties.

The strategy of maintaining of gaseous environment in human-occupied confinements, such as those found in
submarines, space ships and planetary habitats, is based mainly on the common sense presumption that the artificial
breathing mixture should simulate the Earth’s atmosphere as close as possible. It is commonly believed that any
significant change in the proportion of constituent gases would be potentially hazardous for humans. Meanwhile, the
alternative assumption is also possible. One can ask: what benefits a modified gaseous environment would provide for
the crew in prolonged space missions? A comparison is possible with the use of artificial Helium-Oxygen breathing
mixture that is for a long time used in saturation diving. Without this mixture no professional diving deeper than 60-70
m would be possible. The other example gives us the current practice of using normobaric hypoxic air for stimulating
adaptation to hypoxia. The numerous advantages of adaptation to hypoxia are broadly recognized today in the field of
sport and fitness training, and find growing application in the preventive and curative medicine.1,2,3

I. Kotliar & A. Prokopov; Hypoxico Inc. New York

Benefits of Modified Breathing Air for Spacecraft and Planetary Habitats

Normobaric, moderately hypoxic air is similar to the altitude air of mountainous ski resorts. In the world more than
million people live in the altitude between 2500 and 4000 m., where oxygen partial pressure gradually decreases from
14.7 kPa to 12.1 kPa, which corresponds from 15.4 to 12.7% O2 in the normobaric air. At this altitude humans and
animals easily develop tolerance or adaptation to hypoxia.4 The only difference between altitude (or hypobaric) air and
normobaric hypoxic air is that normobaric hypoxic air contains increased amount of nitrogen. This determines the
specific fire-preventive properties of breathable normobaric hypoxic air.

It is well documented that residents of high altitude demonstrate increased vitality and lesser morbidity from common
diseases.5,6 It is proven to be the result of adaptation to hypoxia.

At the beginning of hypoxia adaptation, mitochondrial respiration is decreased, thereby leading to a buildup of reducing
equivalents that cannot be transferred to O2 molecules. This condition, called reductive stress, can paradoxically lead
to enhanced formation of free oxygen radicals. Free radicals mediate expression of genes, responsible for molecular
adaptation to hypoxia. Induction of hypoxia-inducible transcription factor (HIF-1alpha), activated at low pO2, explain
the multiple effects of hypoxia adaptation. HIF-1alpha mediates the expression of possibly hundreds of genes that
enable the cell to survive in a hostile environment.7

Mechanism of Hypoxia Adaptation

Mitochondria are able to change their morphological structure and enzyme spectrum in order to save oxygen under
hypoxia influence. This result in more efficient oxygen utilization and, most important, in the reduction of basal
emission of free oxygen radicals.8 Basal oxygen consumption in the body significantly decreases in adaptation to
hypoxia. Remarkably, that basal oxygen consumption determines the rate of oxidative damage in DNA, which influence
the individual life span, as well as onset and development of age-related diseases.9 By reducing the basal mitochondrial
emission of reactive oxygen species it is possible to inhibit oxidative DNA damage and diminish age-related decline of
DNA repair mechanisms.

In the human studies it was demonstrated that reduction of basal oxygen consumption results in diminishing of excretion
of oxidative DNA repair product – oxo8dG.10 This is a direct evidence of efficacy of hypoxia adaptation in reduction
of basal oxidative DNA damage in humans.

In the pathologic, uncontrolled conditions, such as extreme or prolonged oxygen deprivation, hypoxia “per se,” and
especially the hypoxia-reoxygenation episodes can cause destructive oxidative stress, followed by apoptosis or necrosis
of involved cells. In the controlled, mild and intermittent hypoxia it would only induce enhancement of antioxidative
cellular defense and adjustment of metabolic pathways.11,12,13

Intermittent normobaric hypoxia can be broadly defined as repeated episodes of inhalation of ambient air, having artificially
decreased oxygen content, interspersed with episodes of inhalation of air with higher oxygen content. The primary
distinguishing feature of intermittent hypoxia is the presence of periods of recovery from oxygen deficit. They provide
sufficient time for anabolic responses while avoiding the detrimental effects of long-term severe oxygen deprivation.

Mechanisms of adaptation to hypoxia in the mammals have deep evolutionary roots. The fertilized egg cell begins its
development under very low ambient oxygen content. Partial pressure of oxygen in its microenvironment is near to that
at the top of Mount Everest. Increase of oxygen concentration would kill developing organism immediately, because
its antioxidative defense needs time and proper stimulation to mature.

Impulse biorhythm of cyclic pO2 change was found in the uterus and intrauterine fetus of mammals. It is regarded as
evolution-fixed, physiological mechanism aimed at increasing antioxidative defense of the fetus.14 Maintaining its
capacity during the individual life seems to be crucially important mechanism that is keeping the balance between
potentially destructive free radical oxydation and the reparative synthesys of damaged cellular structures.

Benefits of Modified Breathing Air for Spacecraft and Planetary Habitats

Stimulating this mechanism by adaptation to intermittent normobaric hypoxia results in more significant increase of
nonspecific resistance to oxidative stress, than application of continuous, uninterrupted altitude hypoxic stimulus.3

Moderate hypoxia, especially if combined with exercise, facilitate adaptation and improvement of aerobic metabolism.
Exercising in hypoxia result in increased hormonal response and enhanced release of Growth Hormone.15 In contrast,
extreme and prolonged continuous hypoxia initiates catabolic processes, which result in reduction of muscle and bone
mass. Similar effects are present in the microgravity conditions of space flights and in model experiments. These
effects are shown to be mediated by decreased production of GH, which accompanies detraining and disuse of muscles,
ligaments and bones.16,7

The question is, what specific biomedical problems of manned space flights could be solved or ameliorated by
implementing a normobaric hypoxic gaseous environment?

1. Hypogravity deconditioning
The impact of hypo-gravity deconditioning on the crew’s ability to conduct subsequent surface operations is a
significant concern. For example, the typical transit time for an Earth-to-Mars mission is 150 to 200 days. Because
this extended time in zero gravity will contribute to bone and muscle loss in the crew members, these astronauts
cannot be expected to walk great distances easily when they reach Mars. Current space biomedical research
continues to study why bones loose more calcium during space flights, as well as changes in renal tissue, the
decrease in body fluids, insulin and glucose disturbances and the development of a secondary immunodeficiency.
It was shown that many of these troubles are mediated by decreased basal production and pulsatile release of Growth
Hormone in hypogravity.16 GH activity goes far beyond the effect of any other hormone. It not only modulates
biological aging, but also significantly improves physical and mental performance and prevents muscular atrophy
and osteoporosis. Researchers have proven GH therapy can reverse the biological effects of aging by many years
and dramatically improve physical fitness and bone density.

The effective countermeasures against detrimental effects of hypogravity used in the long orbital flights on “Mir”
station, were based on the intensive treadmill exercise. Unfortunately, this exhaustive training requires more than
three hours each day to achieve preventive effect. The “Mir” cosmonauts preferred to use this countermeasure only
for two hours daily, which is still very expensive in resources and time-consuming.

Abundant studies confirmed that physical exercising in hypoxia result in exaggerated metabolic changes in the
body.1,3,15,17 An individualized protocol of hypoxic training provides a dramatic increase of GH production.

In a practical view, exercise in normobaric hypoxia would be useful for intensifying endogenous GH release in
astronauts, as well as in subjects to whom heavy resistance training cannot be applied.

2. Radioprotection
It is widely known that rapid, heavy doses of radiation, released by a solar flare can cause severe cellular damage.
Most of a solar flare’s energy is in alpha and beta particles that can be stopped with a few centimeters of shielding.

It is well known that radiation damage in cells is augmented dramatically by increase of oxygen partial pressure (so
called “oxygen effect in the radiation injury”). It is established that the molecular-biological mechanism of radiation
effect on the living organisms is mediated by massive production of oxygen free radicals, released by radiolysis of
water molecules.

By means of acute decrease of oxygen partial pressure in the body one can achieve the significant radioprotective
effect in cells.18

Benefits of Modified Breathing Air for Spacecraft and Planetary Habitats

The inhalation of hypoxic air, containing 8-8.5% O2, instead of ambient air, reduces oxygen content in the tissues
more than on 50%. It results in marked, though short-termed (about 30-min.) radioprotective effect against ß and
Y rays. In some emergency situations this complementary technique would provide sufficient time for astronauts
to reach the stationary radiation shelter. Astronauts, adapted to hypoxia, would not suffer negative effect from this
low level of oxygen.

The astronauts will spend about six months traveling to Mars, eighteen months on the surface, and six months returning
to Earth. The permanent habitats of the Mars base can be covered with thick layers of soil to provide full-time radiation
protection, so nearly all the crew’s radiation exposure would occur during the year of interplanetary travel.

The possibility of long-termed radioprotection against cosmic rays can be employed by use of the phenomenon of
hypoxic hypometabolism, which develops in mammals under prolonged hypoxia. Application of uninterrupted hypoxic
stimulus down-regulates metabolism and decreases body temperature, especially during the night sleep. Hypoxic
hypometabolism can be used both for radioprotection of crew and saving resources during interplanetary flight.

Advantages of Increased Carbon Dioxide

The potential advantages of increased carbon dioxide (hypercapnia) in the modified gaseous environment also merit discussion.

Physiological hypercapnia is associated with a number of positive biological and therapeutic effects, such as increase in the
cerebral and myocardial blood flow, acceleration of oxyhemoglobin dissociation in the capillaries and enhancement of blood
perfusion in functionally active organs.19 There is abundant evidence of enhanced capillary growth, increased collateral
blood vessels development under intermittent hypercapnia applications. Naturopathic medicine and balneotherapy since
long time successfully explore different protocols of increased CO2 application to produce curative effects.

It is well proven that moderate hypercapnia provides protective effect in severe hypoxia. The direct protective action
of carbon dioxide against hypoxic injury during bypass operations was reported.20 Protection of blood coagulation
homeostasis in severe hypoxia by carbon dioxide was shown.21 CNS tolerance to hypoxia can be increased promptly
and sufficiently by purposeful elevation of inspired carbon dioxide partial pressure.22 Protective effect of increased CO2
on calcium metabolism in immobilization osteoporosis was demonstrated.23

It was shown recently, that carbon dioxide provide direct antioxidative action, suppressing concentration –
proportionally the production of superoxide-anion radicals in the mitochondria, and neutralizing the other highly-
aggressive free radical peroxynitrit.24,25,26

Actually CO2 in proper concentration plays in the body the role of an abundant, easy available and fast acting
antioxidant, which protects from depletion the other, slower functioning components of antioxidant network system of
the body under condition of oxidative stress.27,28,29 The review of physiological effects of moderately elevated CO2
levels presented in a joint NASA / ESA / DARA study.30

And last, but not least: the productivity of plants and algae in an artificial planetary ecosystem can be enhanced
significantly by increased ambient CO2.

We can summarize that numerous benefits of moderately hypoxic-hypercapnic gaseous environment in the space
exploration human activity are highly promising. Remarkably that this approach would be synergistically favorable for
space flights managing: it eliminates completely the fire hazard; it results in enhancing of general health and operational
reliability of crew; it increases positive effects of exercise and reduces oxygen consumption.

The detailed questions concerning specific protocols of application of such modified atmosphere should be answered
during future biomedical research in simulated space missions.

Benefits of Modified Breathing Air for Spacecraft and Planetary Habitats

1. Radzievskii P. Use of hypoxic training in sports medicine. Vestn Ross Akad Med Nauk 1997;(5):41-6
2. Berezovskii VA, Levashov MI. The build-up of human reserve potential by exposure to intermittent normobaric hypoxia Aviakosm Ekolog
Med 2000;34(2):39-43
3. Bailey DM, Davies B, Baker J. Training in hypoxia: modulation of metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors in men. Med Sci Sports Exerc
2000 Jun;32(6):1058-66
4. Hochachka, P.W.Gunga, H.C.Kirsch, K. Our ancestral physiological phenotype: an adaptation for hypoxia tolerance and for endurance
performance? Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1998 Feb 17;95(4):1915-20
5. Curran LS; Zhuang J; Droma T; Moore LG. Superior exercise performance in lifelong Tibetan residents of 4,400 m compared with Tibetan
residents of 3,658 m. Am J Phys Anthropol, 1998 Jan, 105:1, 21-31
6. Mortimer EA Jr, Monson RR, MacMahon B. Reduction in mortality from coronary heart disease in men residing at high altitude. N Engl J
Med 1977 Mar 17;296(11):581-5
7. Ted S. Gross, Nagako Akeno, Thomas L. Clemens, Svetlana Komarova, Sundar Srinivasan, David A. Weimer, and Sergey Mayorov,
Physiological and Genomic Consequences of Intermittent Hypoxia. Selected Contribution: Osteocytes upregulate HIF-1 in response to acute
disuse and oxygen deprivation. JAP.Vol. 90, Issue 6, 2514-2519, June 2001
8. Chavez JC, Pichiule P, Boero J, Arregui A. Reduced mitochondrial respiration in mouse cerebral cortex during chronic hypoxia. Neurosci Lett
1995 Jul 7;193(3):169-72 AD
9. Beckman, K.B. and Ames, B.N. (1998). The free radical theory of aging matures. Physiological Reviews . Vol. 78 . No 2. April 1998. 547-581.
10. S Loft, A Astrup, B Buemann, and HE Poulsen Oxidative DNA damage correlates with oxygen consumption in humans FASEB J. 1994. 8: 534-537.
11. Zhuang J, Zhou Z. Protective effects of intermittent hypoxic adaptation on myocardium and its mechanisms. Biol Signals Recept. 1999 Jul-
12. Sokolov E.I., Mushinskaya K.V., Davydov A.L., Starkova N.T., Ehrenburg I.V., Tkatchouk E.N. Effects of the interval hypoxic training on
lipid peroxidation in non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus. Hyp. Med. J. 1999. V. 7. N 3-4. P. 37-40.
13. Gulyaeva N.V., Tkatchouk E.N. Antioxidative effects of interval hypoxic training. Hyp. Med. J. 1997. V. 5. N 3. P. 18.
14. Chizhov Aia. Physiologic bases of the method to increase nonspecific resistance of the organism by adaptation to intermittent normobaric
hypoxia. Fiziol Zh 1992 Sep-Oct;38(5):13-7
15. Kjaer M, Hanel B, Worm L, Perko G, Lewis SF, Sahlin K, Galbo H, Secher NH. Cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to exercise in
hypoxia during impaired neural feedback from muscle. Am J Physiol 1999 Jul;277(1 Pt 2):R76-85
16. G. E. McCall, C. Goulet, R. R. Roy, R. E. Grindeland, G. I. Boorman, A. J. Bigbee, J. A. Hodgson, M. C. Greenisen, and V. R. Edgerton.
Spaceflight suppresses exercise-induced release of bioassayable growth hormone. JAP.Vol. 87, Issue 3, 1207-1212, September 1999
17. Schmidt W, Dore S, Hilgendorf A, Strauch S, Gareau R, Brisson GR. Effects of exercise during normoxia and hypoxia on the growth hormone-
insulin-like growth factor I axis. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1995;71(5):424-30
18. Strnad V, Sauer R, Tacev T. Hypoxic radiotherapy. The radioprotective effect of acute hypoxia in the radiotherapy of tumors in the abdominal
area. Strahlenther Onkol 1994 Dec;170(12):700-3
19. Fried, R. (1993). The Psychology and Physiology of Breathing In Behavioral Medicine, Clinical Psychology, and Psychiatry. New York.
Plenum Press.
20. Hanel F, von Knobelsdorff G, Werner C, Schulte am Esch J. Hypercapnia prevents jugular bulb desaturation during rewarming from
hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass. Anesthesiology 1998 Jul;89(1):19-23
21. Pak GD; Sverchkova VS. Role of carbon dioxide in the correction of coagulation homeostasis during hypoxia. Kosm Biol Aviakosm Med 1987
22. Lambertsen, C.J. CO2 – O2 interactions in extension of tolerance to acute hypoxia. Final report. University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.
Rep. No. 4-20-95 (Springfield, VA, 1995: NASA and National Technical Information Service, dist).
23. Drummer C, Friedel V, Borger A, Stormer I, Wolter S, Zittermann A, Wolfram G, Heer M. Effects of elevated carbon dioxide environment on
calcium metabolism in humans. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1998; 69: 291-8
24. Beckman, J.S. and Koppenol, W.H. (1996) Nitric oxide, superoxide, and peroxinitrite - the good, the bad , and the ugly. Am. J. Physiol. 271.
Pp. 1424-1437.
25. Pryor, W.A. et al.(1997) The catalytic role of carbon dioxide in the decomposition of peroxynitrit. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. Vol.23
No 2. Pp 331-338.
26. Squadrito, G.L. and Pryor, W.A. Oxidative chemistry of nitric oxide: the roles of superoxide, peroxynitrite and carbon dioxide. Free Radical
Biology and Medicine. 1998. Vol.25 ,No 4-5. 392-403
27. Zhang, H. et al. Inhibition of peroxynitrite - mediated oxydation of glutathione by carbondioxide. Arch. Biochem.Biophys. 1997. 339. 183-189
28. Kogan, A.K. et al. Carbon dioxide and generation of reactive oxygen species by mitochondria. Dokl. Akad. Nauk.1995. Vol.340 No.1. 132-134
29. Kogan, A.K. et al. Further evidence that CO2 inhibits the production of superoxide anion radicals in tissue phagocytes. Dokl. Biol. Scienses
1996. Vol. 348. 225-227.
30. Frey MAB, Sulzman FM, Oser H, Ruyters G. The effects of moderately elevated carbon dioxide levels on human physiology and performance:
a joint NASA – ESA - DARA study – overview. Aviat Space Envir Med. 1998; 69: 282-4.
31. Useful links:;;;

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

Michael A. Pelizzari

When humans begin to systematically explore and settle Mars, the addition of rocket exhaust gases to the thin Martian
atmosphere will irreversibly alter its composition, and its reactivity with exposed surfaces. Scientists on Mars will then
be hampered by the challenge of distinguishing anthropogenic from pristine features of their objects of study, a fact that
will erode the value of their contributions to comparative planetology. The problem can be avoided, or at least
mitigated, by conducting as much activity as possible using emission-free vehicles and power sources. Transportation
between ground and space can be accomplished without rocket propellants, either by shooting payloads into space with
guns (mass drivers), or by transferring momentum to them through ultra-long cables (space tethers). The Gun
Transportation System would consist of electromagnetic “coil guns” or conventional expanding-gas guns, either of
which must be hundreds of kilometers long to achieve escape velocity at human-survivable accelerations. The Cable
Transportation System would consist of skyhooks, space elevators, and other tether-based elements, hundreds or
thousands of kilometers long. Both transportation systems would be easier to deploy at Mars than at Earth, due to its
smaller size, lower gravity, and thinner atmosphere.

The atmosphere of Mars is considerably thinner than Earth’s, and thus more vulnerable to alterations in its composition
by human activity. Future studies of the atmosphere, its chemical effects on surface features, and its interactions with
Martian biota (if any), may be hampered by such alterations. This paper identifies a major risk of human activity on
Mars to the science of biology: the destruction of life forms unique to Mars before they are ever discovered. Restricting
gaseous emissions on the Martian surface, especially rocket exhausts, would mitigate this risk by preserving the pristine
atmosphere to which the hypothesized life forms have adapted. To this end, non-propulsive alternatives to rockets are
proposed for launching payloads into space from the Martian surface.

Momentum can be transferred to payloads either by shooting them from the surface with guns,1 or by lifting them with
tethers that reach the ground from orbiting satellites.2 Payloads are assumed to include human beings. Therefore
accelerations must not exceed human physical endurance limits, a restriction that translates into minimum lengths of
gun barrels and tethers on the order of 400 km to reach escape velocity. This is long for the gun but short for the tether.
Building a 400-km gun on Mars would require a construction, earth-moving, tunnel-drilling megaproject to produce a
straight or near-straight support structure of that length. Three sites whose favorable terrain-slopes would minimize the
amount of work are examined.

Tethers as short as 400 km must rotate end over end as they orbit Mars, in order for their rotation and orbital speeds to
nearly cancel where they pick up payloads.3 Such rotating tethers, which touch down many times per orbit, are called
asynchronous skyhooks to distinguish them from synchronous skyhooks, or “space elevators.” The latter are much
longer and corotate with Mars. The space elevator is essentially a building so tall that the centrifugal force of Mars’
rotation would keep it from falling down.4 Skyhooks are usually perceived as operating only in the equatorial plane,
serving only equatorial launch sites. Because Mars explorers and settlers would probably rule out options demanding
long journeys to reach their launch facilities, we consider skyhooks capable reaching non-equatorial latitudes.

Search for Primordial Life

Of central interest to exobiologists is the search for pre-bacteria, the hypothesized missing links between nonliving
chemical systems and the simplest known independent life forms, the bacteria. Terrestrial searches for them have
yielded nothing, either in the modern biosphere or in the fossil record. The transition from known non-living organic
molecules to the first bacterium is a gigantic leap in chemical complexity, inexplicable by evolutionary theory without

Michael A. Pelizzari; Virtual Galactonautics,

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

intermediate forms. The lack of living bacterial precursors lends credence to panspermia, the hypothesis that bacteria
fell to Earth from an extraterrestrial source, and the prediction that their ancestors can be found on their planet of origin.
Following the recent discovery of bacteria-fossil-like structures in a Martian rock recovered from the Antarctic ice sheet
as a meteorite,5 some exobiologists regard as inevitable the transfer of bacteria between planets, aboard rocks dislodged
from their parent bodies by asteroid or comet impacts. After the Earth, Mars is the second most likely birthplace of
bacteria in the solar system, and therefore the next place to search for pre-bacteria. If pre-bacteria exist on Mars in a
form that would be recognizable to science, they must be more fragile than bacteria and unable to survive in space.
Otherwise they too would have survived the interplanetary journey aboard the impact ejecta that brought Martian
bacteria to Earth. By this hypothesis, seekers of pre-bacteria should go to the Martian surface.

It is equally possible that bacteria evolved on Earth from ancestors so fragile that they left no fossils, and have since
been wiped out by one or more global changes, such as oxygenization of the atmosphere. It has been argued that bacteria
appeared much too early in Earth history to have evolved here.6 The fact that bacteria have existed almost as soon as
the environment became hospitable to them might mean that they evolved very quickly from fragile precursors.
Chemical reactions can proceed rapidly when triggered by some high-energy event, producing mixtures far from
thermodynamic equilibrium and rich in complex but unstable molecules, few of which persist as the energy dissipates.
Some of these molecules might have become self-replicating on a time scale shorter than their mean lifetimes, and
capable of evolving within their dynamic chemical environment from one generation to the next. It would only take a
single bacterium to evolve in this primordial soup before it cools, for life to survive the aftermath of the triggering event
and gain a toehold on the planet. The fact that nothing much more complicated evolved for almost two billion years7
testifies to the robustness and stability of the bacterium, the most successful of life forms. By this hypothesis, bacteria
could have evolved either on Earth or Mars, and spread via impact ejecta to the other planet. If on Earth, pre-bacteria
may never be found. If on Mars, pre-bacteria may be found under the following conditions:

(1) persistent pre-bacterial life forms exist,

(2) global change has not wiped them out,
(3) they are recognizable as life, and
(4) they survive human intrusion into their environment.

Condition (4) may require the imposition of constraints on human activity within or near the hypothesized biosphere of
Mars, especially activities such as rocket launches that pollute the atmosphere. If any rocket-plume constituent is lethal
to pre-bacteria, it could be spread planet-wide by the winds of Mars, exterminating pre-bacteria before they are
discovered by science.

Yet a third possibility is that bacteria evolved around some star other than the sun, and fell to Earth and/or Mars on
meteors captured by the sun during a close passage of the star.6 This would be the only viable hypothesis if it took
billions of years for bacteria to evolve, in which case the search for pre-bacteria would be just as fruitless on Mars as
on Earth. But the current prevailing view of evolution, known as punctuated equilibrium, is that life evolves in bursts
separated by long stretches of stability.8 The first such burst might have been the giant leap from nonliving precursors
to the first bacteria 3.5-4.0 billion years ago, perhaps triggered by an asteroid falling into the primordial soup in the final
days of planetary accretion. Modern biologists need not invoke billions of years of evolution around some ancient star
to accept the early appearance of bacteria on Earth or Mars.

Rocket Contamination Footprints

The Mars Society’s proposal for human exploration, known as Mars Direct, calls for launching a new crew to the
Martian surface at every launch window and returning that crew to Earth through the next launch window.9 These
windows are separated by one Earth-Mars synodic year, or 780 Earth days. The outbound rocket would inject little if
any exhaust gas into the atmosphere of Mars, because deceleration would be accomplished by aerobraking. But the
Earth Return Vehicle (ERV), a methane-oxygen burner, would inject almost its entire propellant load of 96,000 kg into
the Martian atmosphere as water vapor and carbon dioxide. The effect of this injection on the Martian atmosphere can

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

be grasped by noting the masses of water and carbon dioxide occurring there naturally. Table 1 gives the atmospheric
compositions of Earth and Mars, along with other data needed to estimate the column densities of water and carbon
dioxide above their surfaces. Figure 1 gives the corresponding relative humidity. From these it is clear that water vapor
is a trace constituent in the Martian atmosphere, unlike carbon dioxide. The reverse is true in Earth’s atmosphere,
though both gases are trace constituents in the driest regions. Therefore in assessments of the environmental impact of
hydrocarbon burning, water vapor must be regarded as the pollutant on Mars, and carbon dioxide the pollutant on Earth.

One can quantify the environmental impact of rocket exhaust by expressing the mass of each exhaust gas in terms of
the natural abundance of that gas in the atmosphere. For this purpose, let us define the footprint of a gas source to be
the surface area on a planet above which the mass of an atmospheric constituent would be doubled by emission from
the source. Thus the water footprint of an ERV launch on Mars would be the surface area on Mars above which the
natural atmosphere contains 43,200 kg of water, which is the mass of water expelled by the ERV. Numerically, the
footprint is simply the mass of the constituent gas in the rocket exhaust divided by the column mass of that gas in the
undisturbed atmosphere.

Table 1. Atmospheres of Earth and Mars.10,11 Column air masses are shown for the constituent gases
whose densities would be increased by hydrocarbon-burning rockets.

igure 1. Relative humidity on Mars compared to the range of relative humidity occurring on Earth.
Curves were derived from the total pressures and H2O abundances in Table 1,
using the saturation pressure of water vapor over condensed water shown at left.12

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

Table 2. Footprints of ERV launches (43,200 kg H2O, 52,800 kg CO2).

The water and carbon dioxide footprints of an ERV launch are shown in Table 2 for both planetary atmospheres. The
water footprint on Mars is by far the largest number in the table, due in part to the extreme dryness of the Martian
atmosphere. To illustrate how much drier Mars is than Earth, the volumetric water abundances in Table 1 were
converted to curves of relative humidity vs. temperature. The results, shown in Figure 1, suggest that it never rains on
the Red Planet, and snows or frosts only on extremely cold nights or at high latitudes. Any cloud condensing from water
vapor in the ERV rocket plume would quickly evaporate as the plume diffuses into the dry Martian air. The average
relative humidity within the plume will exceed twice that of the pre-launch air until the plume has diffused to a cylinder
2.06 km2 in cross section around the rocket path. At that point the carbon dioxide in the plume, by contrast, will have
dropped to within 0.016% of its density in the undisturbed atmosphere.

Precautionary Principle
Atmospheric oxygen, vital to most life forms on Earth today, is known to have caused a mass extinction of anaerobic
bacteria some two billion years ago. Might water vapor do the same to Martian pre-bacteria? A handful of ERVs poses
no risk, but as the exploration of Mars leads to settlements and commerce with Earth, rocket launches could become a
significant source of water vapor in the Martian atmosphere. The result could be a dramatic global increase in relative
humidity. How this change would affect the hypothesized pre-bacteria will remain a completely open question until
somebody either discovers pre-bacteria or develops a scientific theory of pre-bacteria with some predictive power.

Given our state of ignorance of the roots of the tree of life, the precautionary principle should be given great weight as
we venture beyond the home planet. Although this principle has been stated in various ways, it always expresses the
need to err on the side of caution when science cannot provide the knowledge needed to perform traditional risk
assessment and management. A recent summary of the precautionary principle reads as follows:13

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken
even if some cause and effect relation-ships are not fully established scientifically.

Generalized from humans to entire biospheres, this principle has already motivated NASA’s efforts to protect other
planets from terrestrial microbes by sterilizing interplanetary spacecraft. It should now motivate efforts to preserve the
natural composition of Mars’ atmosphere by developing alternatives to rockets.

Mass Drivers
Many mass drivers have been proposed over the years for launching payloads from planetary surfaces. All are basically
linear accelerators, applying a force to the payload as it moves along an upward-inclined linear guide, or rail (barrel for
gas guns). Whatever the nature of the force, electromagnetic, gas pressure, or psychic, we assume it is uniform along
the rail and vanishes thereafter. To launch ERVs, the mass driver must produce muzzle velocities of at least Mars escape
(5.03 km/sec), with acceleration low enough to avoid injuring the passengers, and with enough velocity margin to
compensate for aerodynamic drag along the post-muzzle flight path through the atmosphere. The payload may include
onboard rockets to reach higher speeds than the mass driver can deliver, but these would be fired far beyond the Martian
atmosphere. The acceleration limit must account for the reduced tolerance of individuals whose physiologies have
adapted to Mars gravity (0.38 gees). Here we assume a 3-gee limit, which achieves Mars escape velocity after 430 km,
if applied continuously along the rail. This length can be reduced to 390 km for launchers near the equator and pointing
eastward, since payloads start with Mars’ rotation velocity at the loading end of the rail.

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

Based on the preceding considerations, we identify the following criteria for mass-driver sites, listed in decreasing order
of importance:

1. Terrain elevation increases uniformly over a very long distance (minimizes acceleration).
2. Terrain elevation is as high as possible at the muzzle end (minimizes air drag).
3. Terrain is near equator and slopes up toward the east (maximizes boost from Mars’ rotation).

With these criteria in mind, cursory inspection of a topographic map of Mars14 uncovered the potential mass-driver sites
listed in Table 3. The listed length at each site represents the longest uninterrupted stretch of uniformly sloping terrain,
and therefore the longest straight section of rail possible at that site. Calculations of atmospheric drag loss at each
candidate site are shown in Table 4. They are based on an assumed ERV mass of 20,000 kg, which is about the mass
of the Mars Direct ERV minus propellant and items to be left on the Martian surface.9

The last row in Table 4 shows how aerodynamically streamlined the ERV must be to keep drag losses below 100 m/sec.
Clearly the Olympus Mons site outshines the others in this respect, because it would require little if any streamlining to
give the ERV an effective cross section of 4.39 m2 . Unfortunately, Table 3 shows that it is the worst of the three sites
when rated by rail length, subjecting passengers to accelerations almost double the safety limit. One way around this
problem would be to guide the ERV along a curved section of rail before feeding it to the straight section on the slope
of Olympus Mons. Figure 2 illustrates this idea with a 3-stage idealized model, in which the terrain slope jumps abruptly
from 0° to 5.44° at the base of the Olympus Mons cinder cone. Over the base, a curved section of launch rail with length
S and uniform radius of curvature RC (Stage 2) is installed to connect a horizontal section (Stage 1) to the main inclined
section (Stage 3). RC is driven by the need to keep centrifugal forces within passenger comfort and safety limits. This
in turn determines the length of the curved section between its points of tangency with horizontal and sloped terrains (S
~ 0.0949RC is the flat Mars approximation in this case). The more sharply Stage 2 curves, the less supporting structure
must be built to hold it up over the terrain, but the more jarring will be the ride for passengers due to centrifugal force.
Figure 3 shows the acceleration required along Stage 3 and the speed of arrival from Stage 2, for several assumed
centrifugal-force limits. Also shown is the height of the rail above the base of Olympus Mons, which is where the gap
between rail and terrain is greatest. Choosing a design involves a tradeoff between reducing the cost of the rail and
increasing the margin of safety for passengers, an exercise beyond the scope of this report. One plausible compromise,
shown by arrows in Figures 2 and 3, is obtained using an upper limit of 1 gee on centrifugal force in Stage 2 (solid curves
in graphs). It has a 16.7-km curved section with a 185.3-km radius of curvature, allowing the ERV to enter Stage 3 at
1.348 km/sec, a speed that can be boosted to escape velocity without exceeding the 3-gee linear acceleration limit. This
curved section crosses over the base of Olympus Mons at a height of 188 meters.

Table 3. Candidate sites for gun-type ERV launcher. Assumes uniform acceleration
to escape velocity (5.03 km/sec) along a straight launch rail pointing eastward.

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

Table 4. Atmospheric drag losses of payloads fired from candidate ERV launch sites.
The last three rows are based on an ERV mass of 20 metric tons.

Figure 2. Olympus Mons ERV launch rail with curve (length S, radius of curvature RC) to extend
acceleration path. Vertical scale is exaggerated for clarity. Example (arrows) is described in text.

Our attention has focused on the Olympus Mons site because its superlative elevation places it above so much of the
atmosphere that aerodynamic drag can be ignored. The two other candidate sites, Tharsis Montes and Hellas Planitia,
would be more suitable for launching highly streamlined ERVs. If power is abundant at these sites, imparting extra
velocity to payloads to compensate for drag would permit the launching of less streamlined shapes. With a 500-km
stretch of uniformly sloping terrain to accommodate it, a straight-rail mass driver could produce muzzle velocities of
5.4 km/sec without exceeding the 3-gee safety limit.

The Skyhook is a satellite whose function is to transport payloads to and from a terminal on the surface of a planet around
which it orbits, using a space tether. Figure 4 illustrates both synchronous and non-synchronous types operating in the
equatorial plane. For a payload to be picked up (or dropped off) easily as the satellite passes overhead, the tether tip
must come to a complete halt after its descent to the terminal, before proceeding on its way with (or without) the
payload. Kinematically, the ground and tether tip velocities must match at the moment of touchdown. For a circular
orbit, the tether would behave like the spoke of a giant wheel rolling around the planet. The synchronous skyhook can
be regarded as a special case in which touchdown is a permanent condition, i.e., the giant wheel is stopped dead with

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

its spoke standing on the terminal. This is the immensely long space elevator, exemplified in science fiction by Arthur
C. Clarke’s “orbital tower.”15 The shorter non-synchronous skyhook, or pinwheel, is much closer to physical
realization.16 Of the two types, only the pinwheel could conceivably be developed in the near future to reach non-
equatorial sites. For the space elevator to do so would require anchoring it to the ground, which would balance the
component of gravity normal to the equatorial plane and prevent it from wobbling between hemispheres. The enormity
of such an anchor places it in the unforeseeable future of global engineering megaprojects, where space elevators will
figure prominently, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 3. Parametrics of Olympus Mons launch rail with curved section of length S.
Dotted line in (A) shows the safety limit for Stage 3 linear acceleration.
Centrifugal acceleration in Stage 2 is also limited for passenger safety.
Solid curves in (A) and (B) represent the nominal 1 gee limit.
Curves for 2 gees (short dashes) and 3 gees (long dashes) assume riskier limits.

Far Future: Space elevator: a special case of 1- Far Far Future: Constellation of space elevators,
armed pinwheel such that ωs = ωo = ωp (=14.62º/hr escalators, cross-threads: literally a World Wide
for Mars). Web. Dashed line is synchronous orbit.
Figure 4. Skyhook concepts. The synchronous skyhook (left), first described by Tsiolkovski,17
corotates with its planet. The non-synchronous skyhook (right), first described by Artsutanov,18
must spin to cancel its orbital velocity at touchdown.

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

Figure 5. Skyhooks of the unforeseeable future. Large blobs past stationary orbit
are counterweights whose centrifugal force holds up the space elevators.

In designing pinwheels to launch ERVs from Mars, we follow the mathematical notation of Moravec3 but extend his
analysis to nonzero latitudes. For a touchdown point at latitude λ, the velocity-matching condition is expressed in terms
of the planet’s radius rp, orbital radius ro and angular velocities of the skyhook spin ωs, its orbital motion ωo and the
planet’s rotation ωp:
(ro − rp) ωs = ro ωo − rp ωp cosλ (1)
This equation contains the implicit assumption that the satellite is moving due east at touchdown if the planet is rotating.
This is true for all touchdowns from an equatorial satellite, but from a non-equatorial satellite with orbital inclination i,
it is only true at the latitude extremes of the satellite ground track, where λ = ± i. If the tether tip were to touch down
at intermediate latitudes, the ground velocity component transverse to the orbital plane would not be canceled, and the
tether would be subjected to extremely high aerodynamic drag through the corotating atmosphere. Therefore to reach
high latitudes, the skyhook must be long enough to touch down only once or twice per orbit. Figure 6 illustrates the
permissible types of pinwheels, and defines the parameters needed to compute their lengths as functions of touchdown

Pinwheel lengths are determined by synchronizing touchdowns with overflight of ground stations. This involves the
following steps:

• Relate angles swept by orbiter and ground station:

ωo TPASS = ωp TPASS + 2 π J (2)
• Relate angles swept by orbiter and pinwheel arm:
ωs TTD = ωo TTD + (2 π / N) K (3)
Access to ground terminals at nonzero latitude λ:
• Requires orbital inclination i = λ
• Limits touchdowns to 2 per orbit, at latitudes ±λ where tether tip can descend vertically.
Number of pinwheel arms N:
• N = any number if λ = 0.
• N = 1 (asymmetric pinwheel) or 2 (symmetric pinwheel) if λ ? 0.

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

TTD = time between successive touchdowns at ground terminal.
TPASS = time between successive overflights of ground terminal meridian.
J = number of complete orbital revolutions per day.
K = number of complete pinwheel revolutions per orbital period.
Spin constraint on non-equatorial (λ <> 0) pinwheel:
• If pinwheel has one arm, K = 1 or K = 2 is allowed.
• If pinwheel has two arms, only K = 1 is allowed.

Figure 6. Skyhooks of the foreseeable future.

Tether tip descends to ground terminal, where arriving /
departing payloads are removed / attached. Tether tip
rises again into space. Motion appears vertical to the
ground terminal crew at the moment of touchdown.

• Express angular velocities in terms of radii and the gravitational constant of Mars:

ωs = (ro ωo − rp ωp cosλ) / (ro − rp) (4)

where rp = 3390. km
ωo = (G MP / ro3)½ (5)
where G MP = 42828. km3/sec2

• Compute the integer number of orbits per day and spins per orbit:
J = int(ωo/ωp) (6)

K = int(ωs/ωo) (7)

• Obtain orbital radius vs. touchdown latitude for N-armed pinwheel by solving:
TTD − TPASS = 0 (8)
By solving Equations (2) and (3) for TTD and TPASS, we can write Equation (8) as
(ωo − ωp) K / N − (ωs − ωo) J = 0 (9)
Solutions for 1- and 2-arm pinwheels were found by substituting Equations (4) through (7) into Equation (9), and
numerically searching for zeroes of the left-hand side. Results are plotted in Figure 7. Note that only the “1-arm, 2-
orbits/day” curve represents true pinwheels. The other two curves are at synchronous orbit and therefore represent space
escalators. These pinwheels have arms so long – more than two Mars radii – that acceleration poses no risk to passengers.

Much shorter pinwheels will work at the equator. If too short, their faster spin poses a risk to passengers. Acceleration
at liftoff is simply the sum of the accelerations due to the tether’s orbital motion and its spin:3

(Liftoff acceleration) = (Surface gravity) rp3 / ( ro3 − ro2 rp) (10)

This is plotted in Figure 8 for various pinwheel lengths, where it can be seen that the 3-gee safety limit is exceeded by
any pinwheel whose arms are shorter than 307 km. The disadvantage of serving only the equator might be offset by the
higher frequency of overflights per day (up to 11) and the larger number of ground terminals served (up to 22 equatorial
sites spaced 970 km apart). With these advantages and their more manageable lengths, equatorial pinwheels are likely
to emerge as alternatives to rockets much sooner than the high-latitude pinwheels described earlier. This is fortuitous

Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

because it is near the equator where the first immigrants would be inclined to settle, given the Red Planet’s
comparatively frigid climate. By the time Mars becomes so crowded that newcomers seek elbow-room at higher
latitudes, space tether technology may have advanced enough to build non-equatorial pinwheels to serve them.

Figure 7. Orbital radii of non-equatorial pinwheels. Ground terminal latitudes north and south
must equal the pinwheel’s orbital inclination, so one pinwheel can serve at most two latitudes.

Figure 8. Acceleration of pinwheel payloads upon liftoff from the Martian equator.
Dotted line marks acceleration safety limit.

The precautionary principle, originally formulated out of concern for human health and safety, instructs us to err on the
side of caution when facing uncertainties with far-reaching consequences. By generalizing it to the health and safety of
planetary biospheres, exobiologists stand a better chance of discovering their quarry. To the extent that the search for
extraterrestrial life motivates the exploration and settlement of Mars, it is incumbent upon mission planners to heed the
precautionary principle. The Mars Direct Plan’s Earth Return Vehicle would inject environmentally significant amounts
of water vapor into the Martian atmosphere. This would risk contaminating the surface locally, by hydration and other
reactions with rocks and soil below the rocket plume. Pre-bacteria, if they exist on Mars, could be extremely fragile and

– 10 –
Non-Propulsive Access to the Martian Surface

altered or destroyed by the increase in relative humidity in their ecological niches. Larger scale Mars-Direct follow-on
missions also using rocket propulsion for Earth-return could, over time, globally increase the relative humidity on Mars,
and risk eradicating pre-bacteria before they are ever discovered.

These risks can be mitigated by developing non-propulsive methods of departing the Red Planet, and utilize them on
Mar-Direct follow-on missions of exploration and settlement. Over the short term (decades), equatorial pinwheels could
replace rockets. Imposing a 3-gee safety limit on acceleration would mandate pinwheel arm lengths of at least 300 km.
Launching payloads without rockets from off-equatorial sites is more challenging, but several options could emerge over
the long term (50 years). Pinwheels with arms 6800-9500 km long could serve launch terminals within 53º of the
equator. Mass drivers could launch payloads to Mars escape velocity from any latitude, provided the local terrain
permits a straight launch rail to be angled upward. The 3-gee safety limit would be exceeded by any rail shorter than
400 km, a constraint that leaves only a handful of sites qualified for passenger-rated launchers. Olympus Mons is the
most promising such site. And finally, space elevators and escalators could join this list of non-propulsive alternatives
to rockets over the very long term (centuries).

None of these rocket alternatives has received much support beyond conceptual design work. It is hoped that the precautionary
principle, applied to hypothesized Martian life, will shine a spotlight on them and invigorate their development.

1. “Midterm to far term applications of electromagnetic guns and associated power technology,” Miles R. Palmer, IEEE Transactions on
Magnetics, Vol. 29, 1993, pp. 345-350.
2. Dynamics of Space Tether Systems, Vladimir V. Beletsky and Evgenii M. Levin, Advances in the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 83, American
Astronautical Society, 1993.
3. “A Non-Synchronous Orbital Skyhook,” Hans Moravec, The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 307-322, Oct.-Dec. 1977.
4. “The Space Elevator: ‘Thought Experiment’, or Key to the Universe?” Arthur C. Clarke, in Advances in Earth Oriented Applied Space
Technologies, Vol. 1, pp. 39-48, Pergamon Press, 1981. Accessible online (files CLARK1.HTM,
5. Imre Friedmann, “Fossil traces of life in the Martian meteorite ALH84001,” Fourth International Convention of the Mars Society, Stanford
University, August 24, 2001.
6. Robert M. Zubrin, “Interstellar panspermia and life on Mars,” Fourth International Convention of the Mars Society, Stanford University,
August 23, 2001.
7. Andre Brack editor, The Origins of Life on Earth: Assembling the Pieces of the Puzzle, Cambridge University Press, 1998.
8. S. J. Gould and N. Eldredge, “Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered,” Paleobiology, Vol. 3, 1977, pp. 115-151.
9. Robert Zubrin, “The Mars Direct Plan,” Scientific American, Vol. 282, March 2000, pp.52-55.
10. “Mars Atmosphere,” Mikhael Marov, in The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, Steven P. Maran editor, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992.
11. C. W. Allen, Astrophysical Quantities, Third Edition, Athlone Press, 1973.
12. Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 53rd Edition, Robert C. Weast editor, Chemical Rubber Company, 1972, pp. D-147, D-148.
13. “The New Uncertainty Principle,” David Appell, Scientific American, Vol. 284, January 2001, p. 18.
14. Atlas of Mars, 1:25,000,000 Topographic Series, M 25M 3 RMC, 1976, I-961, U. S. Geological Survey.
15. The Fountains of Paradise, Arthur C. Clarke, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979.
16. “Advanced Space Propulsion Study – Antiproton and Beamed Power Propulsion,” Robert L. Forward, AFAL TR-87-070, October 1987.
Accessible online (search for “rotavators” in file
17. Konstantin Tsiolkovski, 1895. See introduction in Ref. 4, online file CLARK1.HTM.
18. Yuri Artsutanov, 1969. See acknowledgements in Ref. 4, online file CLARK3.HTM.

– 11 –
Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

Jonathon Smith

As civilizations have risen and fallen, so have many human customs and traditions. However, it seems as if the human
tendency to expand, whether it be to push further the borders of an empire or to push further the borders of knowledge,
has always been present, from the very first human civilization on up.

The ancient Egyptians of the Old Empire managed to forge the first great human empire, which endured for almost 3,000
years. They rose from a small, nomadic desert people, whose main daily activity was to secure water and food for the
next day, to become the creators of the great pyramids. Exactly how they were able to build these pyramids is still a
mystery to modern history and science. Even today, with our modern construction technology and advanced
mathematics and science, such a feat would be monumental, and so it is a testimony to the ancient Egyptians’ drive and
tenacity that they were able to build these huge funeral monuments with nothing but man and animal power.

The Greeks, whose civilization and culture dominated the Mediterranean world for nearly 400 years, were less
concerned with the construction of monuments and more concerned with the building of human knowledge. You cannot
find one area of modern philosophy, science or politics that did not have its origin with, or was not affected by, the
Greeks. They tirelessly and persistently asked the question “why” and tirelessly and persistently sought an answer, and
it seems with great success. Some modern scholars claim the Greeks single-handedly advanced civilization over a
thousand years.

The Romans, who succeeded the role of the Greeks as the dominant force in the Mediterranean, took many of the Greek
concepts to heart. However, the Romans were altogether a more practical people, and their advancements tended to be
on a more practical, usable scale. They were among the first people to have a city with over a million inhabitants, and
some of the systems they developed to support such a metropolis are still used today. The Romans built huge aqueducts
to allow a constant influx of fresh water to the people of Rome. Irrigation projects had been done before, but nothing
like the aqueducts had even been conceived of until the Romans. Also, the Roman Empire was among the first to build
and maintain an extensive paved road system, linking its empire together. Many thought such a feat impossible, but the
Roman nevertheless attempted it, and indeed, some of the roads they built are still in use today!

Perhaps the greatest example though of the innate human tendency to expand and explore is illustrated by the European
Age of Exploration. This era is characterized by fleets of ships, staffed with hard, adventurous men, sailing off into the
unknown waters of the western world. Common knowledge of that day was that if you sailed to far west, you would be
attacked by giant sea serpents. Or, if you were lucky enough to avoid them, you would still fall off the edge of the Earth!
Nevertheless, these men were willing to risk their lives for the adventure and riches that the unknown offered.

It has now been several hundred years since the Age of Discovery. With the help of satellites, we have mapped nearly
every crack and crevice on the face of the Earth. The adventure that people once found in sailing off on ships to the
west has become common place. However, there is another frontier, one that humans have just recently opened up and
one that offers the greatest challenge and promise that humanity has ever faced. That frontier is space, and the first most
likely candidate of human exploration is the planet Mars. The reason the planet Mars is most likely the next object of
our exploitive efforts in the next century is that humans by nature are colonizers. Trips to the moon are fun and
inspiring, but we as a race have rarely been content with just visiting a new place, and then coming right home. We as
a race like to expand and settle permanently, and the only planet in the near future on which that is possible is Mars.

Jonathon Smith; email:

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

In the introduction to my senior year world history class, my teacher asked the class, by way of a group discussion
question, why we should study history. Many interesting ideas were brought up, but the one that fascinated me most
was the idea that we can use the past to predict the future. History is after all just one big soap opera, with this empire
rising and this empire falling, these people attacking those and this person doing that. We can take examples in history
that are comparable to examples today, and then extrapolate what the future might hold by how things turned out with
our historical counterpart. Indeed there is much to be learned by examining the past.

When one looks over the various great civilizations in the past, the Greeks stand out as representing an unusually great
flourishing of new ideas. There are many theories as to why this is so. Some historians claim that the harsh countryside
of Greece molded the Greeks into a creative and enterprising people. Says one scholar, “The country, to a large extent,
determined the character of its inhabitants. Greece is a land which makes its own terms, and which imposes certain
requirements on those who come to live there.” Others attribute it to a few great men, such as Plato and Aristotle. Both
of these are valid theories, and will be revisited throughout this paper. However, I believe that the primary source of
this great flourishing of ideas was the Greeks fundamental government structure, that of the independent city-state, or
polis. The nation of Greece was really a collection of thousands of independent governmental units known as polises.
Each one of these polises was free to do as it pleased, and therefore many pursued and developed different ideas on a
multitude of topics, and the net result was a great flourishing of knowledge.

It is known that a great expansion of knowledge took place in ancient Greece, and it is also pretty firmly understood
how and why this took place. However, the real question is what will be done with this knowledge? Is it possible that
this example from the past could be used to set up another great flourishing of knowledge in the future? Those
circumstances that caused this unusual flowering of knowledge could be recreated to actually induce a second one? The
opportunity to make such an attempt presents itself as humans begin to strike out into space and colonize the planet
Mars. If development of future Mars colonies is directed in the same way as the Greek city-states, then it stands to
reason that the results might be the same, i.e., that Mars colonies could become the source of a second great blossoming
of knowledge. For years we have used the past to predict the future. Why not use it to help create the future?

Geography, Geography, Geography

Around 750 BC, small villages located on the Greek peninsula began to organize themselves into city-states. One might
think it curious that the Greeks chose the Polis type government format as they began to organize politically. Off across
the Mediterranean, to their southeast flourished the great Persian Empire, a political body that was blooming and
spreading across hundreds of miles. The Mycenaean civilization, which had preceded the Greeks in the Mediterranean
also, had an empire of sorts, whose power encompassed the Mediterranean for nearly 200 years (Bowra 32). It seems
that, as examples of political bodies, the Greeks had all about them models of large, far ranging empires. Why then did
the Greeks not seek large unified state encompassing the whole of the Greek peninsula, and instead opt for the smaller,
more local city-state government type? The answer in large can be attributed to the geography of Greece and the
restrictions it placed on those early villagers.

Greece, despite all its majestic beauty and grandeur, was not a nice place to live back in the time of the early Greeks.
The literature describing it is harsh, to say the least. “ . . . A land of hard limestone mountains separated by deep valleys,
it is cut almost in two by the narrow divide of the Corinthian Gulf.” (Bowra 12) The country itself is amazingly small,
not even as large as the Yemen or Florida(Bowra 12). When this is taken into account with the fact that nearly three-
quarters of all the land in Greece is covered with mountainous terrain of the kind described above, you begin to see the
situation of the early Greeks. There were no huge open plains where they might have grown large fields of crops, no
convenient river valleys upon which to build an empire. The peoples of Greece had to content themselves with living
in the narrow spaces between the mountains, where the soil was rich enough to sustain their crops (Bowra 65).

The settlements that developed in these small patches of fertile ground were very much isolated from one another. The
harsh terrain of Greece made communication and travel between these settlements very difficult. As these settlements

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

grew it became necessary for more political organization. Seeing as it was not feasible to unite with other settlements,
each of these settlements started up their own political bodies, and thus the city-state is born in Greece.

The literature describing the geography of Mars is also harsh, to say the least. “. . . The Martian terrain is incredibly
varied. It includes canyons, chasms, mountains, dried river / lake beds, flood runoff plains, craters, volcanoes, ice-
fields, dry-ice fields, and chaotic terrain, to name just a few . . .” (Zubrin 139). Mars has a total surface area of 144
million square kilometers, a land area equal to all the usable land surface of Earth. The various features mentioned
above are distributed all throughout the planet, with such famous features as the 4,000 kilometer long Valles-Marineris
canyon system, and also the extinct volcano Olympus Mons, the largest known mountain in the Solar System. Another
very important aspect of Mars is its atmosphere. Mars has a very thin atmosphere, which exerts only about a hundredth
of a percent of the pressure at MSL on Earth. Also, the major component of the atmosphere is Carbon Dioxide, which
makes up approximately 95.3% of the atmosphere. Also, the mean surface temperature on Mars is -53 degrees Celsius.

This description of Mars makes Greece sound rather mild, geographically speaking. Some considerations should be
brought up, though. The geography of Mars is very similar to that of ancient Greece, with respect to the technological
sophistication of its settlers and inhabitants. On the surface, the two geographies may seem vastly different, with Mars
being by far the harsher of the two environments. However, it must be remembered that at the time the Greeks were
establishing themselves in ancient Greece, there were no airplanes or highways with which to travel from place to place.
There were no advanced agricultural equipment or techniques to aid them in their cultivation of fields, and there were
no construction machines to help them build their cities. People traveling to Mars, although Mars is much harsher, will
have technology that will allow them to effectively survive on the surface. The specifics of these technologies will be
addressed later in this paper, but suffice it to say at this point that they do exist. Now, this will not be the easiest
existence, it will be challenging. The whole argument though is that it will be as much a challenge for Mars colonists
to survive in the Martian environment as it was for the Greeks to survive in the harsh environment of Greece.

This similarity is perhaps more easily seen when the effect that the geography has / will have on the colonizers is
examined. We have seen that the harshness and lack of land in ancient Greece served to isolate groups of people into
small, self-reliant communities. The general ruggedness of the landscape also discouraged travel and communication
between the different city-states. The Martian environment requires that some sort of pressurized shelter be built for
humans to live in. This will prove to be a major limiting factor in the size, and hence population, of future Martian
colonies. Restated, the Martian environment will naturally serve to isolate people into small, self-reliant communities.
Although communication between these various shelters will not be a problem due to modern advancements in satellite
communication, travel between these different groups will be difficult. Pressurized rovers or highly expensive train
systems would be needed for any kind of reliable long-range commuting between colonies. Restated, the geography of
Mars will discourage travel between the various colonies. Can you see the parallels?

The same geographic features that kept Greece from developing as a single unified state also served to help protect them
from being conquered and ruled by a single empire. In the Greeks / Persian War, which constituted the greatest threat
to Greek independence, the geography of mainland Greece was perhaps the most powerful ally the Greeks had. The
ruggedness of the Greek landscape hindered the movement of the Persian army through Greece, and also made
supplying the army with food and supplies difficult. The seven hundred Greeks fighting at the battle of Thermopylae
were able to use the strategic advantage of the narrow canyon pass to hold back the entire Persian army for almost seven
days. The ruggedness of the Greek landscape in fact discouraged invasion by reputation alone. Potential invading
countries saw that not only would it be hard to conquer all these little towns placed sporadically among the mountains
and valleys of Greece, but also even if that were managed, effectively enforcing their rule if the conquered city-states
tried to rebel would be almost impossible.

Future Martian colonies will also be in a position where external, established powers will find it extremely difficult to
maintain comprehensive control of them. Mars is nearly 134 million miles away from Earth, a six-month journey
through space, thus any attempt on the part of an Earth-based power to rule any substantial number of colonies on Mars

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

would be nearly impossible if the colonies did not want to be ruled. If the colonies chose to rebel or ignore orders from
Earth, it would be nearly 6 months before Earth could make any kind of response. Also, rule of all the Martian colonies
by a single Mars-based power would also be difficult, for reasons already discussed. Transportation of humans between
colonies is so expensive that any kind of large troop movement would not be easily done, therefore rule would be
extremely difficult to enforce.

Mars and Greece do have many geographic similarities. These geographic similarities led, in ancient Greece, to the rise
of the independent Polis, and in future Mars, will point colonies to developing in the same way, for the same reasons.

Thus far we have discussed the similarities between Greece of the past and Mars of the future. The main point of this
paper in many ways relies on using the situation of ancient Greece as a metaphor and projection for what might happen
someday on Mars. Justification has already been put forward as to how these two are related, and it has been established
to a degree that the two have common geographies and that these geographies have the same effect on the people settling
them. However, before this discussion can go forward, further justification is needed that there will indeed be a future
Mars, i.e., that Mars is capable of being settled by humans, and that it has the necessary allure and resources to sustain
permanent human settlements.

Mars, although extremely harsh environment-wise compared to Earth, has all the raw materials necessary to sustain
human life. When examining Mars as a possible home for future settlers, the two elements of primary importance are
oxygen and water. Fortunately, Mars has a plentiful supply of both, although not in the forms we are used to on Earth.

Mars has an atmosphere composed of 95 % carbon dioxide, 2.7 % nitrogen, 1.6 % argon, and is quite devoid of diatomic
oxygen. However, carbon dioxide itself contains two oxygen atoms per carbon-dioxide molecule, and through a process
of direct carbon dioxide-reduction, which involves heating the carbon dioxide molecules to 1100’s Celsius, the molecule
can be split into carbon and atmospheric O2 (Zubrin 152). While this method exhibits a fair amount of reliability, it is
also quite energy expensive and probably will not be utilized on a large scale on Mars. The primary source of oxygen
will most likely come be water. Water can be reduced by a process known as electrolysis, into its component parts,
hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen. The oxygen can then be utilized for creating breathable air, while the hydrogen, as
we will see, has its own very important uses (Zubrin 151).

If water is to be utilized not only to provide nourishment to settlers, but also to create air for those settlers, Mars must
be able to provide a more than abundant source of it. Luckily, Mars does not disappoint. However, Mars has no oceans
or flowing streams, so where will all this water be coming from? There are actually several different sources of water
on Mars. The most convenient and attractive source of water to a Mars settlement would be an underwater spring, a
geothermally preserved pocket of water inside the Martian crust. A colony or water distribution station would situate
itself directly on top of or near to an underwater well of water. This water would then be pumped up for use in the
colony, and would most likely also be packed as ice for export to other colonies. While these underwater stores of water
have not been directly observed on Mars, there is good reason to believe they exist. Earth has hundreds upon hundreds
of underground springs, and there is no reason to believe that the same isn’t true of Mars. Other sources of water that,
although not as convenient as a geothermal spring, would provide water in the bulk necessary to sustain colonies are
subsurface ice deposits, above surface ice deposits (for colonies located far enough north for above ground ice to exist
in bulk), and directly from permafrost soil (Zubrin 185).

Mars contains the basic substances necessary for human survival, oxygen and water; that has been established.
However, if Mars ever hopes to be home to colonies of human settlers, it must be able to offer an existence beyond just
barely surviving. Simply mining air and water on Mars may be enough for early precursor missions to the red planet,
but if colonies are ever to thrive, they must be able to develop large industries and agricultural centers. It would not be
practical for these industries to import all their raw material and so forth, due to the high costs of transporting off-planet
materials to Mars. Thus, materials, which would support large-scale industrial and agricultural projects, must be

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

available on Mars if we ever hope to successfully colonize there. Once again, Mars does not disappoint. The most easily
accessible and abundant industrial products on Mars are iron and carbon. An oxidized form of iron known as hematite,
covers the surface of Mars and is actually the substance that gives Mars its red color. Extracting pure iron from the
hematite is no novel procedure and has been used on Earth from the time of the first iron weapons. Carbon dioxide is
the primary component of the atmosphere on Mars. Methods of extracting oxygen from carbon dioxide have already
been discussed, and as we have seen, leave free carbon as a by-product.

It may have already occurred to you that these two elements, iron and carbon, are the primary components in
manufacturing steel. With an initial investment in reactors and furnaces, an infrastructure can be set up on Mars that
will allow steel to be produced for relatively low cost. The importance of this infrastructure alone cannot be over
emphasized. The ability to produce steel means the ability to produce large-scale construction projects and the ability
to provide a diverse number of industries with an important manufacturing material.

Steel is not the only metal of importance that can be produced on Mars however. Elements such as copper, silicon and
aluminum are also postulated to be available in relative abundance on Mars. Methods for extracting and refining these
minerals, as well as producing other products such as plastics, ceramics, glass, and fertilizer, are discussed in great depth
in the book, The Case for Mars, written by Robert Zubrin. All the specific methods employed will not be covered in
this paper, but suffice it to say that it is possible to produce them.

So, we have seen that Mars not only houses the primary necessities of life, but also contains all the raw materials
necessary to sustain large-scale human colonies and industry. The only question that remains is whether or not we have
the technology to make all this work; whether or not we have the know-how to set up settlements and utilize the raw
materials present on Mars to make colonization practical. The answer to this question is both yes and no.

Right now humans possess the technology to mount a short-term humans-to-Mars exploration program. We have the
necessary launch capabilities and technologies to send a small crew to Mars and return them safely to Earth. Although
there has been much theoretical work done in the area, we do not at present possess the technological sophistication to
set up a permanent human colony on Mars. However, this is to be expected, and should not be viewed in any way as a
discouraging thing. Much of the activities of the early human missions to Mars will be centered on exploring ways for
doing things on Mars. They will work to set up a cache of actual experience in dealing with the Martian environment
and will perfect the techniques that have only been theoretically explored thus far. For instance, at this point in time,
crops have never been successfully raised on Mars. Now while there is a lot of theoretical work on how this could be
done, until humans actually go there and test it out, it can not be substantially stated that humans possess the technology
to raise crops on Mars. The other main technological areas that these early missions will center on developing are the
sciences of processing Martian resources into usable forms, and building structures on Mars using indigenous Martian
resources. All three of these areas have comparable counterparts on Earth, and thus we have only to take what we have
learned on Earth and modify it to work in the Martian environment. This will not be an easy task, but it will not be so
difficult as to prevent humans from settling the red planet.

Chapter two was justification for comparing Ancient Greece to future Mars. It was support that such a comparison is
not out of context. Chapter three was to show the feasibility and strong possibility that the colonization of Mars will
take place, that this whole discussion is not about just some fantasy idea that never has a chance to come to fruition.
Both of these were needed to set the stage for the grit concept of this paper; the great experiment that happened in
Greece, and how we can set up the same flourishing of knowledge to happen on Mars.

Something unusual happened in the nation of Greece, something that had never happened before, something that only
the recent rise of science and technology in the western world can compare too. The Greeks were not an especially
wealthy group of people. The nation of Greece itself is rather small, both in size and population, as we have already
seen. They were not genetically superior in any special way, or any kind of super human race. Yet, the Greeks of the

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

mid-millennium before Christ single-handedly managed to advance civilization over a thousand years. The Greeks
made breakthroughs, not simply discoveries, but true breakthroughs, in nearly every aspect of human inquiry, from
politics, to economics, to philosophy, to science, to aesthetics. The Greeks revolutionized thought on all aspects of
human existence, and the ideas they originated have been and are being practiced by every nation on Earth, in one way
or another. To understand this great flourishing of knowledge in ancient Greece and what made it possible, it is
necessary to understand the basic governmental unit of the ancient Greeks: the Polis.

Richard Hooker, world cultural expert, explains the development of the Polis.

The single greatest political innovation of the ancient Greeks was the establishment of the polis, or city-
state. In the Mycenean age, the Greeks lived in small, war-oriented kingdoms, but for reasons unknown
to us, they abandoned their cities and their kingdoms sometime between 1200 and 1100 BC. From that
point onwards, they lived in either sedentary or nomadic tribal groups; the period is called the Greek
Dark Ages and lasted until sometime between 800 and 700 BC. The tribal or clan units of the dark ages
slowly grew into larger political units at the end of this period; beginning around 800 BC, trade began
to dramatically accelerate between the peoples of Greece. Marketplaces grew up in Greek villages and
communities began to gather together into large defensive units, building fortifications to use in
common. On this foundation, the Greek-speaking people who lived on the Greek peninsula, the
mainland, and the coast of Asia Minor, developed political units that were centrally based on a single
city. These city-states were independent states that controlled a limited amount of territory surrounding
the state. The largest of these city-states, for instance, was Sparta, which controlled more than 3000
square miles of surrounding territory.

The overwhelming characteristic of the city-state was its small size; this allowed for a certain amount
of experimentation in its political structure. The age of the city-state in Greece is an age of dynamic
and continual experimentation with political structures; this period of experimentation gave the
European world most of its available political structures. Its small size also allowed for democracy,
since individual city-states were small enough that the free male citizens constituted a body small
enough to make policy decisions relatively efficiently. The overwhelming importance of the polis in the
evolution of European political structures is betrayed by the word “political” itself: derived from the
word polis, “political” etymologically means “of or relating to the polis.”
— (Hooker)

The key statement in the above quote is, “The overwhelming characteristic of the city-state was its small size; this
allowed for a certain amount of experimentation in its political structure.” Not only did the small size of the city-state
allow for experimentation in the political style of the city, but it also allowed for a wide range of cultural and scientific
experimentation. But before this train of though is pursued, some examples of the contributions of the Greeks will be
given. It is easy to state that the Greeks advanced civilization a thousand years, but further evidence is needed to give
that statement merit. So before it is explained how the city-state set the stage for this blossoming of knowledge and
culture, it will first be substantiated that there in fact was a blossoming of knowledge and culture. If you are already
familiar with the many contributions of the Greeks, you may wish to merely skim through or even skip over the
following section, seeing as it is pretty extensive. It is essential to the purpose of this paper, though, that this information
be given.

It is probably in the political arena that the Greeks made their most influential discoveries to the world. As stated by
Mr. Hooker, “this period of experimentation gave the European world most of its available political structures.” Perhaps
the political system most easily drawn back to Greece is democracy, and its place of origin, Athens.

Athens has achieved great fame in the western world for being the “birth place of democracy.” Democracy had its start
in Athens in 503 BC, with Cleisthenes. While Cleisthenes was Chief Archon in Athens, he initiated political reforms

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

that were vital to the development of democracy there. Cleisthenes’ reforms were meant to bring “isonomia,” that is,
equality before the law of all citizens, a further step toward democracy. The reforms started by Cleisthenes finally came
to their full fruition in 462 BC, when Ephialtes, also acting as Chief Archon, increased the power of the Athenian
Assembly (the democratic power of Athens) beyond that of any other political party. (Chronological) This is generally
considered to be the true start of democracy in Athens.

The Athenian Assembly was the main law making institution in Athens, and it was composed of every free, male
Athenian over the age of thirty. The Assembles deliberations were made more manageable by the work of a smaller
council. The council itself had 500 members elected from out of the assembly, fifty chosen to represent each of the ten
Attic tribes. The council prepared an agenda and list of proceedings for the general assembly. The council, although
smaller than the general assembly, was really too large to manage the day-to-day tasks of government, so another inner
council of fifty men was elected from out of the council for this job. The inner council served as the main-direct
governmental administrator for the democratic city-state of Athens (Bowra 93).

The democracy that was begun in Athens does not much resemble our modern day notions of a democratic government.
Still, Athens was the first government of any magnitude to actually put democratic principles into play. It was the first test
bed of democratic ideas the world had, and thus is credited with being the source of the democratic system of government.

The Athenian democracy was not the standard in ancient Greece; rather it was the exception. The majority of city-states
in Greece had a form of government known as an oligarchy, which simply means “rule by few.” The variety in structure
and format of these oligarchic governments varied largely between the different city-states. In some cities, the wealthy
held the real political power, and thus there was a wealth oligarchy, known as a timocracy (Hooker). In others it was
the artisans, or philosophers. Or in others, like Sparta, it was the military that held all the power.

Sifting through all these different governments, one finds aspects of communism, socialism, fascism, monarchialism,
and many other government types. Such a fact is hardly surprising when one really grasps that there were literally
hundreds of these little city-states, all with different government types, being ruled independently, however they pleased.
There may not have been city-states that were “all-communist” or “all-socialist,” but these many city-states were the
first to really take these different governmental ideas for a test ride, to see how they actually worked in the real world.
They may not have originated all the ideas themselves, but they were the first to test them out with real life experience.

The Greeks contributed a lot to the field of politics, but it was by no means the only area to which they contributed. The
Greeks have been renowned for centuries for their intellectual inquiries into philosophy.

There had been many established religious and philosophic systems before the time of the Greeks. However, the Greeks
constituted the first large-scale emergence of rationalistic beliefs, and thus their philosophic contributions are largely in
the realm of rational inquires into the nature of the world and the humans living in it.

Rationalism, for what ever its value, appears to have emerged from mythology with the Greeks. In engaging in this
intellectual exercise, the Greeks assumed, of course, that nature would play fair; that, if attacked in the proper manner,
it would yield its secrets and would not change position or attitude in mid-play. Over two thousand years later, Albert
Einstein expressed this feeling when he said, “God may be subtle, but He is not malicious.” There was also the feeling
that the natural laws, when found, would be comprehensible. This Greek optimism has never entirely left the human
race (Wilson Pre-Socratic).

Thales, born in 624 BC in the city-state of Miletus, was the first of the Greek philosophers, and arguably the greatest of
the pre-Socratic philosophers. He is the first man we know of to have asked the question, “Of what is the universe
made?” He postulated himself that the fundamental element of the universe was water, and that the Earth itself was
nothing more than a flat disc floating on an infinite ocean. This theory has long since been proven false, but it was never
his answer that was important to the area of philosophy. Rather, it was the question that he posed that would be his

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

legacy, for it would be the basis for the work of all the Greek naturalistic philosophers to come for the next hundred
years (Wilson Pre-Socratic).

The three great patriarchs of Greek philosophy and, without argue, the most famous of the Greek philosophers, were
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Socrates was born in Athens in 470 BC. He spent most of his life roaming the streets and marketplaces of Athens,
talking with those who would talk with him, and trying to set people strait in their erroneous thinking. He is the
originator of the Socratic style of teaching, that is, of teaching someone by leading him or her, through intense
conversation, to arrive on their own at the conclusion you want them too (Gaarder 65). His philosophic project was one
of getting the Athenian citizens to examine their life in respect to philosophy, to step back and see the bigger picture.
Socrates commanded a large following among the youth of Athens. Among his disciples was a young man who would
later even surpass his master in fame – the philosopher Plato.

All that we know about Socrates actually comes through the writings of Plato. Plato, who was born in Athens around
427 BC, wrote a series of dialogues to expound upon his philosophic ideas. In most of these dialogues, Plato used
Socrates as his main character, and this is the source of all our information about Socrates. Plato was convinced that
the world as we see it is really just a shadow of reality, that behind every object in the physical realm there existed
somewhere an ideal form of that object, which was perfect and flawless in every way. Plato said the only way we could
ever come to really grasp what these ideal objects might be like is through the use of our faculty of reason (Gaarder
82)(Wilson Plato). Plato also had a student who would one day rival him in fame and intellectual prowess, Aristotle.

Aristotle was born in Stagira, which was a province of northern Greece, in 384 BC. As a young man he traveled to
Athens where he enrolled in Plato’s Academy. He excelled there and was even reported by Plato himself to be “the
intelligence of the school.” Aristotle based all of his philosophic and scientific conjectures on his experiences directly
with reality. He believed that the physical realm was the only objective base humans had for gaining knowledge, and
that a fact was only a fact if it could be empirically reduced to a physical observation. This constituted Aristotle’s
greatest contribution to philosophy, this idea which was in direct opposition to Plato’s theory of Ideals, but which would
later become the basis for modern science (Wilson Aristotle).

Aristotle also did a great deal to advance science. Aside from being a philosopher, he was also an excellent field
researcher, and pretty much single-handedly started the field of biology. However, he was only one of many, many
Greeks to make major advancements in the sciences.

The Greeks were very imaginative people, and a natural wonder that very much captivated their interest was the sky that
revealed itself as night fell. The Greeks were fascinated by the stars and moon and planets, and hence, one of the areas
of their greatest contributions to science was astronomy.

Around 370 BC, there lived a talented Greek astronomer named Euxodus of Cnidus. He developed a mechanical system
to explain the movement of the planets, in which he placed the Earth at the center of the universe with everything else
revolving around it. Although we now know this to be incorrect, it still represents a tremendous theoretical exercise in
mathematics and astronomy (Ancient Astronomy).

Eratosthenes, born in 276 BC, was a diversely educated man. His major contribution to the sciences was that he
managed to calculate the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy. He is also remembered for his work
with prime numbers (O’Connor Erotosthenes) (Ancient Astronomy).

Hipparchus, who was born around 140 BC, was an excellent astronomer. During his life, he classifieds the stars into
groups based on their apparent brightness, estimated the size and distance of the moon, found a way to predict eclipses,
as well as calculate the length of the year to within six and a half minutes (Ancient Astronomy).

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

Another Greek astronomer who made great advancements to the field was Heraclides of Pontus. He proposed that the
seemingly westward movement of stars in the sky was actually caused by the eastward rotation of the Earth. He was
also among the first astronomers to advocate a more heliocentric theory of the universe. He taught that Venus and
Mercury rotated around the sun, not the Earth (Ancient Astronomy).

The Greeks also made advancements in the field of Medicine, although not as in depth as in astronomy. The most
prominent Greek physician in history was definitely Hippocrates of Cos. Hippocrates is known as the “Father of
Medicine,” and rightfully so. He made scientific explorations into nearly every field of medicine including surgery in
general, bone fractures, ulcers, head injuries, and even hemorrhoids. He is also known for his work in the field of bio-
ethics. The Hippocratic Oath, a code of ethics by which a physician should conduct himself, is still required to be taken
by aspiring physicians to this day (Hippocrates).

Much of the information gathered by Greeks in the fields of astronomy and medicine, although extremely important and
significant in their own right, have become somewhat outdated in the present day and age. However, the advancements
made by the Greeks in Mathematics have served as the foundation upon which all modern math has been developed,
and indeed much of what the Greeks worked out nearly 2000 years ago is still in everyday use.

The well-known trigonometric formula known as the Pythagorean theorem is a good example of this. The Pythagorean
theorem is named after its developer, the Greek philosopher / mathematician, Pythagoras of Samos.

Pythagoras was born in 582 BC on the Aegean island of Samos. As a young man he departed Samos for the southern
Italian peninsula known as Croton, then under Greek control. There he was to found his famous cult known as
Pythagoreanism. Although very mystical in belief and practice, this cult also very much revered the study of mathematics
and science. In particular, Pythagoras was intrigued with numbers. He attributed almost divine importance to numbers,
and saw them as a way to understand the universe. He was the first man known of to understand the relationship between
the length of a string on a musical instrument and the note it produced, and computed the ratios between string length and
pitch. He was also very interested in irrational numbers; that is, numbers that cannot be expressed as a fraction but rather
keep repeating as a decimal (an example is the number denoted by Pi) (Wilson Pre-Socratic).

Zeno of Elea, born about 450 BC, is another great Greek mathematician. Zeno combined mathematics and logic to come
up with some strange theories. One of his stranger theories was that motion is impossible –” he argued that motion is
impossible: If a body moves from A to B then before it reaches B it passes through the mid-point, say B1 of AB. Now to
move to B1 it must first reach the mid-point B2 of A B1. Continue this argument to see that A must move through an
infinite number of distances and so cannot move.” (O’Connor The Rise)

Archimedes, born in the mid 2nd century BC, made significant contributions to the field that would later be termed as
calculus. Among other things, Archimedes, using a rudimentary form of integration known as exhaustion, was able to
calculate the surface areas of circles, cones, ellipses and parabolas (O’Connor The Rise).

There has been much discussion of the great intellectual achievements of the Greeks, about their scientific and
philosophic and mathematical discoveries. However, that is only half the story of the ancient Greeks. The Greeks had
very demanding intelligences, but also commanded vast and creative imaginations, and made many significant
contributions to the arts. Perhaps the most lasting and influential of the Greek arts was their creative writings.

Almost every school child has heard the story of the goose that laid golden eggs or the fox and the grapes. These are
part of a collection of short stories that have come to be collectively known as Aesops fables, named after their author,
Aesop of Samos. Aesop was a Greek slave who lived in the early 6th century BC. His stories, although somewhat
simple and straightforward, all have a deeper message, alluding to some vice or virtue of mankind, otherwise known as
a moral (Ancient Literature).

Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

Aeschylus, also known as the father of tragic drama, was the earliest of the three great Greek dramatists. Aeschylus is
credited with being the first dramatist to introduce a second main character. All previous drama had used a single main
character supported by a chorus. However, by introducing another main character, a more personal and potent drama
could be developed in his stories. He is credited with producing some 90 dramatic plays, only seven of which have
survived to the modern day. Among these are Agamemnon, Choefori and Eumenides, collectively known as the Oresteia
trilogy (Ancient Literature).

Aristophanes was the greatest of the Greek comedic play writes. He developed a biting style of comedy, known as “old
comedy,” which centered on comedically criticizing political and social abuses. He is credited with having written 54
plays, only 11 of which have survived to the modern day. These include the Clouds, The Frogs, The Knights, Lysistrata,
Peace, and Plutus (Ancient Literature).

The Greeks were not only writers, but also very gifted in the art of sculpting. They pretty much invented the art of
sculpting life-like, fluid sculptures. Their style very much departed from the old Egyptian tradition of large, blocky
structures, and tended to focus more on movement and action. Their art also had more humanist overtones than those
of previous civilizations did; the Greeks didn’t only sculpt living things in movement, they sculpted living man in
movement. The creations of Greek artists such as Myron and Polykleitos inspired artists for thousands of years to come.
Indeed, not only did roman art reflect the tradition set by the Greeks, but even sculptures as late as the Renaissance, such
as Michelangelo, based their works of the Greek tradition.(Classical Sculpture)

From democracy to sculpting and everything in-between, the Greeks managed to revolutionize the world view of people
during and after their time. The debt that modern man owes to the Greeks for their contributions is almost
unfathomable; indeed, the Greeks molded the bricks and set the foundation upon which we have been building a tower
of knowledge since the time of the renaissance.

So there was a great blossoming of knowledge in ancient Greece, this has been established. How exactly does the city-
state tie in, though? To return to the previous statement made by Richard Hooker, “The overwhelming characteristic of
the city-state was its small size; this allowed for a certain amount of experimentation in its political structure.” It is true
that the small size of the city-state allowed for experimentation in the political structure of the state, but that is not the
whole story. The opportunity the city-state opened up for different political systems to emerge and be tested out also
applied to cultural developments. Just as an area that is dominated by a single political power will not be able to
experiment politically, so an area that is dominated by a pervading culture will find it exceedingly difficult to depart
from that path. What the small, local city-state governments provided to the Greeks were small pockets of civilization
that were not controlled by a larger, national culture. It provided small kingdoms where there were not any set-in-stone
beliefs and doctrines about the natural world, or how art was to be done, a place where enterprising Greeks could take
their new ideas for a test run. And as we have seen, the Greeks did just that.

You may think that the democratic style of government in use by the United States currently offers the same options as
the city-state did, that it allows for the free, uninhibited development of ideas. “Why do you need a polis,” you might
ask, “when you have the U.S.?” While the US does stand for freedom and liberty, the one thing it doesn’t offer is the
uninhibited testing of new ideas.

The clearest way to illustrate this is to look back at England during the time the Americas were being colonized. At that
time in history, England was a world power with a long and illustrious history, a history dominated by the monarchy and
aristocracy. The England of this time was very established, with a long tradition of how to carry out the function of
government, of how to implement justice, of how to fight wars, etc. While this served to aid England in maintaining its
status as a world power, it also served to stifle the development of new ideas. Just as one cannot pour more water into
a full glass, one also cannot implement new ideas into a culture that has pre-existing established traditions.

– 10 –
Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

It was also at this time that English citizens who were tired of the old traditions began making the journey from England
to the New World. In North America, these colonists found freezing temperatures, starvation, scurvy, and any number
of other hardships, but they also found a land without an established tradition. They found a vacuum of power and
culture that they had the opportunity to fill in their own unique ways. The greatest result of this was the establishment
of the United States in 1776, signified by the ratification of a constitution that been the product, not of English tradition,
but the rational minds of American settlers.

While the United States of the present bears little resemblance to England of the 16th century, the same basic principles
are still at work. The US has a very established tradition of rule and culture. It has been dominated for over 200 years
by concept of rule-by-democracy and the Judeo-Christian ethic. The United States is, for all purposes, a full glass. It
has an established culture with little room for change. An example of this is the ineffectiveness of Socialist and
Communists interest groups in the United States. There have been groups actively promoting the transformation of the
US government to a socialist or communist type government for over 70 years. The ideas of these groups clash,
however, with the prevailing political and cultural ideas of the US, and therefore they have found only limited footing
in the US. Only in a land lacking established cultural and political ideas can humans really be free to experiment with
new ideas of this nature.

The Greek city-states provided such an opportunity to the early Greeks. Although the Greeks did have common historic
traditions in the area of religion, these beliefs were more fairy-tale like, and did not necessarily dictate any specific
philosophic tradition or ethic to them. Each separate state was like an open shell, waiting to be filled with the culture
and political institution that its residence desired, whether it be right or wrong, good or bad, beneficial or harmful. This
allowed Greeks in general, a great amount of freedom to experiment with different ideas, and allowed specific Greeks
such as those mentioned previously, to develop new and never before seen ideas on science and philosophy and
aesthetics. There was a void to be filled in ancient Greece, and the Greeks filled it in fascinating and diverse ways.

This flourishing of knowledge in ancient Greece has been termed by some scholars as the “Greek Experiment.” Besides
being a catchy name, this term as applied to the situation in ancient Greece is actually very appropriate. An experiment,
as defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary, is “a test or trial of something; specifically, any action or process
designed to find out whether something is effective, workable, valid, etc.” An experiment is an action taken to find out
whether an idea really fits with reality or not. What made the situation in ancient Greece so amazing and beneficial to
human kind at large was that, not only were they able to originate many different ideas and concepts in the areas of politics
and philosophy, etc., but they were also able to put these ideas into actual use and test them out. It was like a giant
experiment, where each separate city-state adopted a different set of political and cultural beliefs, and then tested them
out. The contribution of the Greeks was not only the production of ideas, but also an example of how those ideas actually
worked in reality. The Greeks were not only great men of the mind, who were able to invent new theoretical ways of
doing things, but they were also men of action, who had the proclivity to put their new ideas into use in the real world.

Mars As Greece
This flourishing of knowledge in Greece was special. It only worked because the conditions were right both
geographically and politically, that led to the development of the Polis, and that in turn set the stage for the Greek
Experiment. Now, we have seen that Mars shares many of the same characteristics as those of ancient Greece. Is it
possible, then, that by playing with the factors involving the colonization of Mars, we could, in effect, set ourselves up
for another type of Greek experiment, but this time on Mars?

The thought that such a possibility exists is both exciting and enticing, but how might one go about doing this? The key
is to let Martian colonies develop as independent political units. In ancient Greece, the colonies were left to make up
their own society and politics, they were not dictated to by foreign powers, or throttled by the tyrannical rule of a single
Grecian dictator. Each colony was left to work out its own society and politics, and we have seen the result. The key
to setting up a similar Martian experiment is to allow colonies to rule themselves as independent city-states.

– 11 –
Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

This may not exactly be possible on the get go of Mars colonization, and for a very simple reason. The initial
colonization of Mars will be very, very expensive. The establishment of colonies will require huge amounts of capitol,
such that only large corporations or governments will be able to finance them. The factors involved in setting up a
colony are very complicated, and would take a number of years to complete. First, a corporation or government agency
would have to come up with mission plan, or perhaps more importantly, a charter, in which they would extensively
describe the entire mission, including all mechanical systems, a time line for completion and a cost estimate. Then they
must get this approved, and appropriate funding. Then the long and extensive process would begin in which the
mechanical systems are contracted and built and tested out on Earth. These systems must then be transported at great
expense to the surface of Mars, and landed at a designated site. Parallel to the construction of the colonies’ mechanical
systems would be the selection process of the colonists. These people would most likely have to be cross-trained and
familiarized with the mechanical systems of the colony, and then, again at great expense, transported to the Martian
surface. Then comes the difficult task of setting up the colony and achieving self-sufficiency; i.e., erecting the actual
structure, setting up an industrial infrastructure, getting the agricultural system running reliably.

Needless to say, after investing the amount of money and capitol necessary to establish a colony on Mars, the
corporation or government sponsor will not likely give up control of that colony. They will want to maintain a presence
in its governing, and rightfully so. It is also conceivable that certain large corporations may be interested in setting up
colonies for a specific, economic purpose. If large amounts of precious ore or other valuable materials are discovered
on Mars, it may be economically profitable to set up a mining colony. In such a case, the colony would surely be
managed as just a division of that company.

Colonies created under these circumstances would in all likelihood remain under the immediate control of their sponsor.
If that is in the best interest of the world or these colonies is irrelevant; the reality is simply that such a sponsor would
not relinquish control of such a major investment. How then will independent colonies come to exist on Mars?

The first colonies will be expensive because they will be the fountainheads. They will need to develop the new
technology; they will need to figure out how to transport masses of humans to mars; they will need to establish new
methods of working in the Martian environment; and most importantly, they will have to figure out all the little bugs
that are sure to arise in every step of the colonization process. However, once the method of putting colonies on Mars
becomes more routine, and the technologies used become more robust and efficient, then the price tag associated with
Mars mission will inevitably decrease. When a new and novel technology is introduced to a market, it starts off very
expensive. However, as better methods are found to do the same job, the cost of the technology is driven down. This
has happened with almost every high-grade technology produced in the last fifty years, including personal computers,
cell phones, home entertainment devices, etc. The same pattern will also happen in relation to Mars colonization. As
the price for setting up a colony on Mars decreases, it will become possible for independent groups of people to sponsor
their own way to Mars. There are two primary ways in which this will most likely take place.

The first is the sponsorship of a colony by a large space-related organization. Space societies of the future, analogous
to the modern day Planetary Society or National Space Society may choose to use member funds to sponsor an
independent Martian colony, as such a feat becomes feasible. Member support for such an activity will most likely be
high, for what loftier goal could a space society ascribe to than to establish an extra-planetary colony. Even more
member support could be elicited if the colony members would be chosen from among the qualified people within the
society. While the sponsor in this case would still want to maintain ties to the colony, actual administration of the colony
would almost assuredly be left up to the chosen colonists.

While sponsorship by space-oriented societies will be a means by which independent Martian colonies will be created,
it nonetheless remains very limited in scope. The bulk of independent Martian colonies will most likely be what I have
termed “communal colonies.” In the communal colony scenario, a charter is issued via-the Internet or some communal
colony corporation saying that a Martian colony is to be formed with a certain number of colonists. There is a price
quoted, per person, for joining the expedition and becoming a colonist. If a person has sufficient sums, he can sign up

– 12 –
Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

on the charter as a colonist. This would continue until the quota of colonists was filled, at which point the funds
collected from the colonists would be enough to establish the colony, and the whole group would take off for Mars.
Thus, in the communal colony scenario, each colonist buys his own way to Mars.

While the price of establishing colonies on Mars may decrease, it will most likely never be an inexpensive venture. The
cost each individual would have to pay to join in a communal colony will therefore be very expensive. It may range
from a couple hundred thousand to millions of dollars per person. However, while such fees are very expensive, they
are not unfeasibly expensive. Even if the price were as high as two million dollars per person, there would surely still
be people who would have the economic clout and desire to join the charter. It is not too unrealistic to imagine a person
selling all of his possessions on Earth, such as his house and car, to finance his way to Mars. The same thing was done
all the time in the old U.S., with people moving west. It is also conceivable that an extended family may wish to support
an enterprising nephew or son with the funds to join such an expedition. Or perhaps organizations might offer to pay
the charter fee as reward for certain student contests, similar to present day student scholarships. Or perhaps there would
be Entrance Fee lotteries, where thousands of people would buy tickets, and the winning person would be provided with
the funds to join the expedition. In any case, it is conceivable and probable that if such a charter were issued, even if it
was expensive, there would be enough people with the funding to fill it.

These are the two most probable ways in which independent colonies will come to exist on Mars. Perhaps the countries
or corporations sponsoring the first of the colonies will be willing to take a back seat and relinquish control of the
colonies the colonists; maybe other ways for establishing independent colonies on Mars will be developed in the future.
In any case, though, free Martian colonies have the potential to exist.

With the establishment of free colonies on Mars, the stage will be set for a Martian experiment. Initially, most of the
free colonies will probably very much resemble each other, and will probably be run in a way similar to governments
on Earth. However, as time progresses and the colonies begin to face different challenges and opportunities, each will
start to develop in its own unique way, adapting and changing to meet the new requirements placed on it. Hopefully
colonists of these independent states will seize the opportunity to try out new political systems. These future colonists
will have the freedom and opportunity to actually do what others have only dreamed about; to take from Earth the best
it has to offer, and build a new society based on those ideals, leaving behind all the bad. The governments of Earth are
to immersed in their own tradition to be able to objectively evaluate themselves, and are to hopelessly caught in their
own cultural rut to ever make any kind of true change. For this to happen, humans must start anew, and we will have
the opportunity on an independent, polis oriented Mars.

The new developments on Mars will not, by any means, be limited to the area of politics. The Martian environment is
completely and utterly alien to the environment of Earth. People living there will be forced to deal with challenges that
humans have never, in the whole of history, had to deal with before. Such a situation will most definitely bring out an
ingenuity in the colonists; an ingenuity that will be necessary for their survival. Coupled with the almost unlimited
freedom the polis has to offer, this environment by all rights should be perfect for the flourishing of new scientific and
technological ideas.

Just as the Greek peninsula molded the Greeks into enterprising and ingenious people, so will Mars with its colonists.
And just as the Greeks, when allowed the freedom to meet these challenges in their own way, came up with an almost
limitless set of ingenious solutions, so will the future settlers of Mars.

1. Ancient Greek Astronomy
2. Ancient Greek Literature.
3. Bowra, C.M.. Classical Greece. Time Inc, 1965
4. Chronological History of Greece in the Vth and IVth centuries BC.
5. Classical Greek Sculpture
6. Gaarder, Jostein. Sophies World. H. Aschehoug & Co, 1991

– 13 –
Pillars on Mars – Linking the Destinies of Ancient Greece and Future Mars

7. Hooker, Richard. Ancient Greece.

8. Hippocrates, father of Medicine.
9. O’Connor and Robertson. The rise of the calculus.
10. O’Connor and Robertson. Eratosthenes of Cyrene.
11. Wilson, Fred L. Aristotle.
12. Wilson, Fred L. Plato.
13. Wilson, Fred L.. Pre-Socratic Philosophers.
14. Zubrin, Robert. The Case For Mars. New York, New York: The Free Press, 1996

– 14 –
Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

Thomas Gangale

It goes without saying that permanent human settlements on Mars will need to grow their own crops, and there is a
considerable body of literature that speaks to these issues. The need for farm animals should also be investigated.

While human waste will certainly be used to fertilize the Martian regolith, it also presents health concerns that will either
need to be addressed by sewage treatment systems, or by exposure to the ambient environment, in order to eliminate
pathogens. Sewage treatments systems will be expensive to transport, and an unknown period of exposure to Martian
conditions will be required to render human waste safe for reuse. Selection of an animal species to accompany humans
to Mars could address these concerns. The optimum Martian farm animal will have the following characteristics:

1. is well-characterized under laboratory conditions.

2. is small, and is therefore easy and inexpensive to transport to Mars.
3. has a short gestation period and a high number of births per pregnancy, therefore breeds rapidly from a small initial stock.
4. produces good quality manure.
5. requires low maintenance (fastidious, self-cleaning).
6. consumes most of the vegetable material that is inedible to humans, thereby accelerating the composting process
and reducing the need for biomass processing equipment.
7. poses a near-zero health risk to humans.

These qualities describe Oryctolagus cuniculus, the European or domestic rabbit.

This presentation briefly reviews the history of the rabbit in space flight and suggests a program of future missions to
study its adaptability to powered flight, microgravity and Mars gravity. Possible roles for the rabbit in Mars colonization
are discussed. Preliminary results of experimentation with growing food in Mars soil simulant JSC Mars-1 enhanced
with rabbit feces are also reported.


Thomas Gangale; 430 Pinewood Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903; email:; web:

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

The European or domestic rabbit, and in particular the New Zealand White breed, is of course ubiquitous in research
laboratories. Its physiology is well characterized in reference texts (Harkness &Wagner), (Weisbroth), (Hillyer), as is
its behavior both in the wild (Lockley) and in the home (Harriman). The huge volume of baseline data is one factor that
makes the rabbit an attractive subject for study in space.

On 19 August 1960, the Soviet Union launched an unmanned Vostok precursor mission known as Korabl Sputnik 2.
Aboard were a gray rabbit, two dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats, 15 flasks of fruit flies, and plants. The spacecraft was recovered
after 26 hours. This was the first recovery of the Vostok program; indeed, it was the first recovery of a Soviet spacecraft.
The rabbit and other passengers were the first life forms ever to return from Earth orbit. So far, I have been unable to
find reference to any other space flights involving rabbits. It would seem that this field of study is wide open.

The Great Recycler

Rabbits can play a significant role in rapidly introducing biomass to the
Martian regolith and developing fertile soil. Rabbits consume most of the
vegetable material that is inedible to humans. The cecum, which is the
blind end of the colon, contains symbiotic microorganisms that produce
cellulase to break down the cellulose walls of plant cells (McLaughlin).
Undigested fiber and waste (hard fecal pellets) pass through the large
intestine along with vitamin-rich cecotropes (soft cecal pellets), which
are formed from fermented cecal material (Cheeke). Processing this
biomass in the gut of the rabbit will reduce the need for mechanical
systems to support similar functions. The less equipment we drag along
to Mars, or the less we need to operate and repair it, the better.

Take, for instance, a grain crop such as oat. We humans just eat the inside
of the seeds. Rabbits eat the whole plant.

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

Low Cost, High Return

At and average mass of about 3 kilograms, the rabbit is one of the smallest of domesticated mammals. Thus, rabbits
and associated support equipment and supplies can be launched at probably about an order of magnitude less cost than
more conventional farm animals such as cattle, sheep, and swine. Furthermore, only a small number of rabbits will be
needed to start a colony on Mars. The ability of rabbits to proliferate is proverbial, but let’s do the numbers.

Harkness & Wagner gives the average litter as seven to eight, while Weisbroth, et al., puts the average litter size as six
to seven for a large number of breeds. Harkness & Wagner give the optimal breeding age as being between four-and-
a-half months and three years. While the average gestation period is 31 to 32 days, so that theoretically one doe could
have 11 litters in a year, Harkness & Wagner states that “an intensive breeding program, requiring good management,
will result in up to 8 litters per doe per year.” Also, Harkness & Wagner gives 47% as the ratio of females born per litter,
while Weisbroth, et al, cites a study in which 48.6% females were obtained.

Allowing for some infant mortality and the slightly lower number of females born compared to males, the average litter
should produce three females which will reach maturity. With the average litter being born at one-and-a-half month
intervals, these females will take three such cycles to mature and will themselves produce litters beginning with the
fourth cycle.

Thus, were one to begin with one unneutered male and one unspayed female rabbit on January 1, one would have a litter of
three females and three males in early February, for a total of eight rabbits, including the parents. There would be another litter
of six by the end of March, another in mid-May, and still another by the end of June, for a total of 26 rabbits. At this point, the
three females from the first litter are ready to breed along with their mother, and so the four females will produce 24 rabbits in
August, for a total of 50 rabbits.

Now the three females from the second litter mature, joining their mother and three older sisters, and the seven females
produce 42 rabbits by the end of September, for a total of 92 rabbits. By November ten females are producing litters,
adding 60 new babies to the population, for a total of 152. Finally, by the end of December, 13 females will give birth
to 78 bunnies, swelling the population to 230 at the end of the first year.

Please don’t try this at home!

Now, this numbers game started with just a single breeding pair. Obviously, to ensure a robust gene pool, we would
take a few more rabbits than that to Mars. The important point is that the short gestation period and high birth rate per
pregnancy greatly leverages the launch mass allocated to establishing this species on Mars.

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

Low Health Risk of Humans

There are very few diseases that rabbits can transmit to humans,
and these are virtually unheard of in domestic populations.
Standard quarantine procedures prior to launch will assure that a
disease-free population is transported to Mars.

One human health concern is allergic reaction. Typically this

manifests in the form of upper respiratory symptoms, but in
many cases these symptoms should be controllable through

Another concern is the potential for rabbits to inflict wounds on

humans. Contrary to popular belief, they are not just harmless
little bunnies. They can be aggressive. As with any
relationship, there must be understanding and trust between
humans and rabbits. In any case, rabbit bites and scratches can
hardly be considered a dire threat, and there might be a case to
be made for the occasional low-level stressing of the human
immune system in maintaining long term health.

High Companionship Value

With regard to interaction with humans, the natural behavior of the rabbit gives it several advantages over other animals
that might be considered for transplantation on Mars.

Rabbits are very fastidious. They groom themselves and each other. Thus their scent is inoffensive to humans. Rabbits
are quiet. They don’t bark, howl, meow, moo, crow, or cackle. This is an important consideration, since humans and
rabbits will live together in close quarters.

Rabbits are affectionate. Like humans, they are social animals, and have an instinctive need for companionship. The
number of pets that are maintained in urban and suburban households throughout the world, for no other reason than for
companionship, eloquently bespeaks the human emotional need to have animals around us. They are part of our natural
environment. The growing practice of pet therapy in nursing homes and other institutions is further evidence of the
importance of animals to the emotional health of humans living in conditions of isolation.

Project LEPUS
Now, I will return to my central hypothesis that rabbits can significantly aid in the development of fertile Martian soil.
In March of this year, I began experimenting with growing food in 17 kg of Mars soil simulant JSC Mars-1 enhanced
with rabbit feces. I have dubbed this experiment the Lagomorph Environmental Processing Utility Study, or LEPUS.

First of all, I would like to introduce the crew. My wife Gail and I have rescued over 200 abandoned rabbits since 1992,
and have placed about 70% of them for adoption in permanent homes (for more information on Bunny Hill, please visit:

Madeline and Tiger are New Zealand Whites who were abandoned in San Francisco in 1998. A few days after they
were rescued, Madeline gave birth to seven bunnies, but because they were transported to our house under conditions
that allowed the babies to get too cold, five of them died the first night. Gail and I named the two surviving bunnies
Scully and Mulder.

I have two sets of experiments running. The first set consists of three identical containers, each with a soil depth of 6
cm and surface dimensions of 33 x 33 cm. The planters contain: 1) commercially available potting soil, 2) unmodified

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

JSC Mars-1, and 3) rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1. Rabbit droppings are normally hard, encapsulated spheroids of fibrous
material, which take some time to break down and mix with soil. I artificially accelerated this process by shredding the
material in my kitchen blender . . . you might want to keep that in mind if you ever come over to my place for frozen
margaritas. Well, as I said, rabbits present a near-zero health risk to humans. When I mixed the shredded rabbit feces
with the JSC Mars-1, the change in the physical character of the soil was dramatic: rich, fluffy, aerated soil, as opposed
to dense, fine sand. It certainly looked and felt like a good growth medium.

All three soils were exposed to rain over a three-week period prior to planting. The unmodified JSC Mars-1 packed
down hard like beach sand in the tidal zone. The rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1, however, retained much of its aeration.

Planted in the first experimental set were:

• tomato
• radish
• carrot
• onion
• peas

It turns out that I grossly underestimated how much volume the rabbit feces added to the JSC Mars-1 (it was only 1,740
g, but bulky), so I had to remove approximately one-third of the rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1 to get back to the same
volume as the other two samples. I used this surplus material to experiment with other vegetables, with potting soil as
a control, but without pristine JSC Mars-1 for comparison. Planted in the second experimental set were a white potato
and eight garlic cloves. The two containers in this set were ceramic bowls 33 cm in diameter by 12 cm deep.

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

I planted Sets 1 and 2 on 24 March 1999. The image shown above was recorded on 12 April. None of the vegetables
that were planted from seed germinated well in any of the soils, but it should be noted that the weather was consistently
cooler than normal due to La Niña conditions, and that the soils were in shadow for much of the daytime due to the
height of the containers.

On 17 April I planted Roma tomato seedlings in Set 1. The next image was recorded on 24 June.

The superior performance of the rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1 can be seen clearly. The tomato plant in this soil is several
times larger than the plants in the unmodified JSC Mars-1 and the potting soil. On this date, the first tomato fruit was
observed in the rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1. The first fully developed pea pods were also harvested from rabbit-
enhanced JSC Mars-1 on 24 June. The garlic plants in rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1 are noticeably larger than in potting
soil. I didn’t expect potatoes to flourish in such small containers, and indeed, after 42 days the plant in rabbit-enhanced
JSC Mars-1 shows little growth, but the potato in potting soil died during this time. In all soils, some of the carrots I
had planted on 24 March were just getting started. Again, this is a testament to the unusually cool spring.

In early July, sustained daytime temperatures in excess 40 degrees Celsius severely damaged the plants in the
experiment; however, the tomato plants continued to produce. Of course, temperatures in this range would not be a
concern on Mars.

The following table shows the results obtained so far:

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

Crop Yields as of 1 September 1999 (grams)

So far, it looks like rabbit stuff has the “right stuff.”

Lessons Learned
The experiment containers were set up 25 cm above ground to isolate them from weeds and garden pests. This caused
a problem with excessive drainage, so that it was difficult to keep the experiments properly hydrated during the hot
summer weather. The experimental setup will need to be redesigned for 2000.

Also, in the case of the first experimental set, the depth of the containers, relative to the small amount of soil used,
resulted in excessive shadowing which inhibited growth in the early stages. At the same time, one must bear in mind
that crops on Mars will be exposed to much weaker sunlight than on Earth.

Finally, the dense packing of hydrated pristine JSC Mars-1 may inhibit root development. In follow-on experiments, the
performance of pristine JSC Mars-1 should be compared with that of samples which include a non-nutrient amendment.

Future Plans
If the rabbit-enhanced JSC Mars-1 continues to show promise, humane experiments including rabbits themselves will
be in order.

A rabbit population should be maintained in constant exposure to simulated Martian regolith to test for health effects.
A follow-on phase of this experiment should incorporate results from the Mars Environmental Compatibility
Assessment (MECA).

A space flight program should be developed to study the adaptability of the rabbit to the environmental conditions of
various phases of a Mars mission, including powered flight, microgravity, and Mars gravity. At this time, I envision a
shuttle-launched, shuttle-retrievable MarsRabSat that would either deploy or inflate to a large-diameter toroid and spin
to simulate 0.38 g. In addition to video recording rabbit behavior under Mars gravity conditions, the long-term effect
of 0.38 g on rabbit physiology could be studied upon retrieval. Such a mission would be a significant predictor of human
physiological adaptability to Mars gravity, and could also serve as a precursor for a larger manned facility.

Possible Role of the Rabbit in Later Stages of Mars Colonization

It should be noted that rabbits burrow underground in the wild. On Mars, this behavior will reduce their exposure to
two of the problematic conditions of the Martian environment: radiation and cold. Because of the rabbit’s short period
from conception to sexual maturity, the combination of selective breeding and genetic engineering should allow the
rapid development of a breed that would be able to survive in successively low-pressure environments. This suggests
the possibility of releasing a Mars-conditioned rabbit subspecies – Oryctolagus cuniculus martianus – into the wilds of
Mars at an earlier stage of ecopoesis (terraforming) than other mammal species.

Rabbits On Mars: One Giant Leap

Someday, our descendants may go for a walk in a park, and see a red rabbit sitting under a redwood tree, on a planet
that isn’t so red anymore.

1. Cheeke, P. R., “Digestive Physiology,” pp. 20-32 in Rabbit Feeding and Nutrition, Academic Press, Orlando, FL, 1987.
2. Harkness, John E., and Wagner, Joseph E., The Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, 2nd Ed., Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1983
3. Harriman, Marinell, House Rabbit Handbook: How to Live With an Urban Rabbit, 3rd Ed., Drollery Press, Alameda, 1995
4. Hillyer, Elizabeth V., and Queensberry, Katherine E., Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery, W.B. Saunders Co.,
Philadelphia, 1997
5. Lockley, R. M., The Private Life of the Rabbit, Macmillan, New York, 1964.
6. McLaughlin, C. A., and Chiasson, R. B., Laboratory Anatomy of the Rabbit, 3rd ed., William C. Brown Publishers, Dubuque, IA, 1990.
7. Sakaguchi, E., “Fibre digestion and digesta retention from different physical forms of the feed in the rabbit,” Comparative Biochemistry and
Physiology, 102A, no. 3: 559-63, 1992.
8. Weisbroth, Steven H., et al., The Biology of the Laboratory Rabbit, Academic Press, New York, 1974

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

John F. McGowan III


Neither manned landings nor short-range robotic probes such as Mars Pathfinder can explore the surface of Mars, 144
million square kilometers comprising as much surface area as all the continents and islands on Earth. Complete
exploration of Mars to find or conclusively rule out important discoveries such as past or present life will require high-
speed low-altitude or ground-based probes such as airplanes, balloons, or high-speed rovers. These devices will need
high frame-rate imaging, such as digital video, to explore the planet and for remote operation either by astronauts on
Mars or mission control on Earth. A variety of uses for video on Mars are presented. Previous results including the
size, weight, power, bit rate, and bit error rate requirements for a video system using commercial off the shelf
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 digital video compression standard
technology are reviewed. A significant concern unique to Mars and space missions is that radiation, especially single
event latchup, may require fabrication of video encoder chips in radiation hardened semiconductor processes. In this
paper, the feasibility of fabricating an MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 video encoder in a current radiation hardened
Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) semiconductor process technology is demonstrated. The near
Earth uses of these compact, lightweight, low-power, digital video systems are also discussed.

A desirable goal for missions to Mars is real-time or near real-time video coverage of the missions. Video coverage of
robotic or manned missions will help build and maintain public support for missions to Mars and other space missions.
This probably represents the most important and best recognized use of video for space missions. In addition, video can
help achieve and may even be essential for a large number of scientific and engineering goals during missions.

Video may prove essential for life detection by robotic missions. Experience has shown that unambiguous detection of
past or present life where it is not expected is difficult. For example, the Viking Lander Labeled Release experiments
produced positive signals at both landing sites.1 However, these results were eventually interpreted by most planetary
scientists as the results of inorganic oxidants in the Martian soil. Similarly the current controversies over the Martian
meteorites and the past controversies over biomarkers in carbonaceous chondrites such as the Murchison meteorite
illustrate the difficulty of unambiguously identifying life. In the case of microbial life, even a detailed still image of a
single-celled organism might be interpreted as an inorganic structure of some kind. A microscope with a video camera
could observe microscopic organisms dividing or making copies of themselves in real-time. A video camera could also
observe microscopic organisms swimming or crawling about in culture. A video of microscopic organisms reproducing
would probably be accepted as unequivocal evidence of life. Video could also reveal exotic life based on biochemistry
substantially different from terrestrial biochemistry.

Video may also be helpful for engineering goals such as failure analysis and failure prevention. Video of the risky final
approach and landing of probes should be helpful in understanding failures. A camera or cameras mounted on a lander
could unambiguously determine the cause of a failed landing such as the Mars Polar Lander. Cameras mounted on the
interior or exterior of a probe could perform frequent inspections of the probe during the long journey from Earth to
Mars. A camera could determine the relative location of the edge of Mars and the fixed stars during the final approach
to the planet. The probe or mission control might be able to use this to determine if the probe is coming in too low as
in the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter (MCO) or too high.

Neither manned landings nor short-range robotic probes such as Mars Pathfinder can explore the surface of Mars, 144
million square kilometers comprising as much surface area as all the continents and islands on Earth.2 Complete
exploration of Mars to find or conclusively rule out important discoveries such as past or present life will require high-

John F. McGowan III; NASA Ames Research Center, MS 233-18, Moffett Field, CA 94035-10000

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

speed low-altitude or ground-based probes such as airplanes, balloons, or high-speed rovers. These devices will benefit
from high frame-rate imaging, such as digital video, to explore the planet and for remote operation either by astronauts
on Mars or mission control on Earth.

Video is better suited than a series of slightly overlapping still images to detect and observe transient phenomena such
as dust storms, lightning, releases of sub-surface gases or liquids, and so forth. Video provides multiple successive
images from differing viewing and lighting angles that should assist in understanding ambiguous surface features.

Ideally, the exploration of Mars or other planets should seek “something interesting” such as past or present life, geology
relevant to terrestrial concerns, or unusual physical phenomena. Some features would be obvious even in a series of
slightly overlapping still images. Seepage or venting of fluids or gases from beneath the surface seems like the most
likely discovery on Mars and might be difficult to detect or study in still images.

On Mars, video should be useful in detecting and studying transient or dynamic phenomena such as dust storms, dust
devils, and lightning in the atmosphere. Seeps of subsurface gases or liquids may occur on Mars. Mars contains
substantial evidence of past volcanic activity including several apparently extinct volcanoes. Current volcanic or
seismic activity may produce various releases of gases or liquids and other dynamic processes. Evidence of geologically
recent seepage of groundwater has been reported.3 If Mars possesses subsurface water or ice, surface seepage or
eruptions of water or steam, even geysers or hot springs in volcanic regions, are possible. Geysers and hot springs have
been proposed as possible sites for the origin of life on Earth.

The subsurface lithoautotrophic microbial ecosystem (SLiME) in the Columbia River Basalt Group is frequently
suggested as a model of current subsurface life on Mars.4 This ecosystem produces significant amounts of methane.
Natural gas was produced commercially at the Columbia River Basalt Group early in the twentieth century. A sub-surface
ecosystem similar to the Columbia River Basalt Group is likely to produce seepage of methane at the surface. In general,
the most likely signature of subsurface life at the Martian surface would be surface seeps of gases or possibly liquids.

Conventional theory holds that the largest, by mass and volume, identifiable trace of past life on Earth are subsurface
deposits of oil, natural gas, and other hydrocarbons. Oil is attributed to simple single-celled organisms trapped in
sediments and pressure cooked over several million years.5,6 If Mars was once warm and wet, supporting lakes and
oceans with primitive microorganisms, Mars may possess subsurface deposits of oil and natural gas. These would cause
seepage of oil and gas, especially methane at the surface of Mars. While trace gas detectors probably offer the greatest
chance of detecting seeps of subsurface gases, video can assist in detecting and studying these dynamic phenomena.7
Many gases of interest such as methane are transparent to visible light and could only be detected indirectly in the visible
spectrum. An infrared video camera may be able to detect and observe releases of gas or fluids that would be invisible
to a visible light camera, especially since gases or liquids from deep within the planet are likely to be warmer than the
surface of the planet.

Although current animal life on Mars seems extremely unlikely, video would be better able to detect and identify
animals than still images, especially if the animals are well camouflaged or small. Similarly, video will be better suited
for detecting a variety of unanticipated transient phenomena on Mars or other planets. These exotic possibilities include
new physical phenomena and mobile probes from extraterrestrial civilizations.

Video technologies for Mars pose a challenge because of the limited power, volume, and total weight of systems that
can be transported to Mars, especially for robotic missions, the possible vulnerability of video systems to the harsh space
environment, the large bit rate requirements of digital video, and the high bit error rates of deep space communication
links. Video systems in Earth orbit share many of these challenges.

Video technologies for Mars have been previously studied for a proposed mission to Mars to fly a small airplane down
the Valles Marineris canyon. This study concluded that a video system based on the International Organization for

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

Standardization (ISO)’s MPEG digital video compression standard could be built with a total weight of 2 Kg including
heavy shielding, a size of about 800 cm3, and a power dissipation of 20 Watts or less.8 MPEG (Motion Pictures Experts
Group) digital video at 352 pixels by 240 pixels, 30 frames per second, requires a bit rate of one megabit per second.9
The bit error rate requirement is 10-6. A video system of this type typically causes a peak signal to noise ratio (PSNR)
of about 30 dB between the compressed image and the original uncompressed 352 by 240 pixel frame. The proposed
video system consisted of a camera lens or lenses, a CCD or other imaging array, and a video processing system to
compress the digital video for transmission back to Earth.

Table 1. Mars Video System Parameters

MPEG digital video at 352 by 240 pixels, 30 frames per second, with a bit rate of one megabit per second is about the
lowest subjective video quality that viewers find acceptable. The 352 by 240 pixel, 30 frames per second, video format
is known as SIF for Source Input Format. Video with dimensions of 176 by 120 is known as Quarter SIF or QSIF.
MPEG-1 SIF digital video is sometimes referred to as “VCR quality.” MPEG-2 digital video at 720 by 480 pixels and
30 frames per second requires about 6-8 megabits per second.10 This is good digital video quality and is used routinely
in DVD’s (Digital Versatile Discs) and other consumer digital video products. This is sometimes referred to as “Studio”
or “Broadcast” quality. An MPEG-2 digital video system for Mars would have the same size, weight, and power
requirements as the MPEG-1 system if commercial off the shelf (COTS) components can be used. The bit rate
requirement would be 6-8 megabits per second.

The principal obstacle to video for Mars missions appears to be the low bit rates currently possible over communications
links between Mars and Earth. These have been less than 100 kilobits per second when the satellites have line of sight
from Mars to Earth. This may be resolved by establishment of communications relay satellites in Mars orbit. The
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is considering a variety of communication relay satellite networks in Mars orbits with
projected bit rates of 1-10 megabits per second.11,12

Although essential for thorough exploration of Mars, communication relays are infrastructure and do not provide an
immediate tangible return on investment. Thus, generating support for funding communication relay systems can be
difficult. It is much easier to justify a relay if it performs some other function such as planetary exploration. Indeed, to
date all relays sent to Mars have been part of planetary exploration probes with still image cameras such as the Mars
Global Surveyor. A high bandwidth relay satellite may carry the first video system to Mars to observe the Martian dust
storms and seek other transient phenomena. In addition to entertainment value, this may be useful for formulating
Global Circulation Models (GCM) of the Martian atmosphere.

Digital video on robotic missions to Mars may be significantly affected by the mechanical stability of the platforms.
Digital video compression technologies such as MPEG digital video use compression methods such as motion
estimation and frame differencing that may be degraded by jitter in the camera from frame to frame. An airplane or

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

balloon may experience jitter due to turbulence in the Martian atmosphere and limitations of the aerobot’s guidance and
control systems. A rover will be traversing a rocky surface. Mobile probes must provide sufficient mechanical stability
for digital video compression to work efficiently.

Missions to the Valles Marineris canyon on Mars, a popular proposed destination for Mars missions, may suffer from
multipath interference effects. Signals sent by the probe back to a relay or directly to Earth will also bounce off the
canyon walls or floor, interfering with the primary signal. This can cause serious problems for communications;
especially compressed digital video signals, which are highly susceptible to, lost data.

The radiation issues for Mars missions including Mars orbiters are much less severe than Earth orbit. Mars lacks a
significant magnetic field and has no radiation belts, unlike Earth. Typical total ionizing dose for Mars missions is 10-
20 Krads. It is likely that shielding such as an aluminum case can protect against Total Ionizing Dose (TID) effects
during Mars missions. The primary concern is single event effects from high energy Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) that
can penetrate any shielding. Single event upsets (SEU) could be detected using embedded monitoring hardware or
software that could reset the video encoder or other hardware as needed. Single event latchup, however, can
permanently damage a video-processing chip. This seems to be the largest radiation concern and could force the use of
radiation hardened Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) even for a Mars mission.

Commercial applications including the Internet, computing, entertainment, surveillance, and medical video are steadily
driving video technologies toward lower power, lighter weight, and higher levels of integration on a single chip, higher
quality, and higher compression ratios for the same perceived video quality. Mobile and other wireless applications must
address many of the same noisy channel and mechanical robustness issues as space missions. However, radiation is not
a significant issue on Earth. Radiation hardening and some other space-hardening issues such as extreme temperatures
may require custom development of video encoders or cameras.

MPEG digital video is highly sensitive to uncorrected errors. MPEG makes heavy use of variable length codes to achieve
high compression. A single-bit error can cause loss of synchronization between the encoder and the bitstream or the
bitstream and the decoder. In the worst case, a single bit error can cause the loss of a half-second of MPEG digital video.
This happens when a single bit error causes loss of synchronization early in the MPEG I frame, the key frame used by
the motion estimation and compensation. All the frames until the next key frame are encoded or decoded improperly.

The synchronization problem due to the variable length codes is one of the main reasons that MPEG hardware encoder
and decoder design is especially sensitive to timing errors such as clock skew. There is very limited tolerance for errors
since the effects of errors are not localized spatially or temporally if synchronization is lost. Thus, porting a working
commercial bulk CMOS MPEG chip design to radiation hardened CMOS, where the signal timing will be different, may
be difficult.

The problems with variable length codes over noisy communications channels have been extensively studied for mobile
and wireless video applications on Earth. Several methods exist to modify the variable length codes without adding
significant overhead to avoid the loss of synchronization and reduce the impact of uncorrected errors. These methods
are not incorporated in the MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 standards. One method, reversible variable length codes (RVLC), has
been incorporated in the ISO MPEG-4 and ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union – Radio Sector) H.263+
digital video standards.

Thus, video technologies for Mars and other space missions may encounter some special conditions not reproduced in
commercial applications on Earth. The most worrisome is that missions to Mars or other space missions may require a
radiation hardened video encoder. Below it is demonstrated that MPEG video encoders can be fabricated in current
radiation hardened CMOS technologies. No advances in radiation hardened CMOS semiconductor process technologies
are required.

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

Radiation Hardened MPEG Encoders

Developing or porting a Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) chip design for an MPEG digital video encoder is a
difficult project with substantial schedule risk. It is not uncommon for MPEG digital video encoders to fail during the
first chip fabrication requiring revision of the design and fabrication of a second-generation chip. According to some
experts, roughly half of all Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC’s) fail on the first attempt, in many cases
requiring fabrication of a revised design.13 Since Mars missions have a narrow launch window to Mars, difficulties in
fabricating a working radiation hardened chip can easily delay a mission by years if digital video is deemed essential
for the mission. Consequently, the use of Commercial Off- the- Shelf (COTS) components, probably repackaged for
space, is preferred. However, the radiation hazards, especially single event latchup, may force fabrication of an MPEG
or other digital video encoder in radiation hardened CMOS.

Unfortunately, radiation hardened semiconductor processes consistently lag a few generations behind commercial bulk
CMOS semiconductor processes in system clock rates, levels of integration, and power requirements. Thus, while many
single chip MPEG-2 Main Profile at Main Level (720 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, 4:2:0 and even 4:2:2 video
format) video encoders in commercial bulk CMOS exist, there does not appear to be a single radiation hardened MPEG
or other digital video encoder chip. However, it appears that radiation hardened CMOS semiconductor processes have
recently achieved the clocks speeds and levels of integration required for a compact, lightweight digital video system.

Table 2 lists the relevant parameters of a number of commercial video encoders. Unless otherwise noted, these are
single chip encoders. The size of the design is given in transistors or logic gates as quoted in the product literature. The
industry standard is that a single two input NAND logic gate uses four (4) transistors. Thus, a chip using one million
transistors corresponds to 250,000 logic gates. Some caution should be applied in using two input NAND gates to
convert between transistors and logic gates. MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 digital video encoders are not constructed from two-
input NAND gates.

Most MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video encoders process ITU-R 601 (formerly CCIR-601) uncompressed digital video
which has a clock rate of 13.5 MHz. Thus, the clock speeds of video encoders are typically multiples of 13.5 such as
27 MHz, 54 MHz, and 81 MHz. A minimum clock speed of 13.5 MHz is required simply to keep up with the ITU-R
601 input signal.

Table 2. Commercial MPEG Video Encoders

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

It is possible to make an MPEG-2 Main Profile at Main Level (720 by 480 pixels at 30 fps) video encoder with an
internal clock rate of 54 MHz and 3-5 million transistors. An MPEG-1 SIF (352 by 240 pixels at 30 fps) video encoder
probably can be manufactured with an internal clock rate of 27 MHz and about one million transistors.

Table 3 lists the relevant parameters of leading radiation hardened CMOS processes. These numbers should be taken
with caution. Numbers of usable gates for gate arrays are often optimistic. These numbers may be derived by dividing
the number of available transistors by 4, the number of transistors in the standard two input NAND gate. However,
MPEG and other digital video encoders are not arrays of NAND gates and may require more transistors per logic gate.

Table 3. Radiation Hardened CMOS Semiconductor Processes

It appears possible to fabricate an MPEG-2 or MPEG-1 digital video encoder in current radiation hardened CMOS
processes. For example, it appears that an MPEG-2 Main Profile at Main Level video encoder could be fabricated using
Honeywell’s RICMOS-V SOI process in one or two chips. The power requirement would be about 5 watts. Chips can
be integrated into multichip modules to reduce mass and volume requirements. Packages largely determine the mass

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

and volume of chips. The worst case would probably be five (5) chips with a power requirement of 5 watts. This
assumes that Honeywell’s figures for usable gates are substantially over-optimistic for an MPEG digital video encoder.

Radiation-hardened CMOS semiconductor process technologies have recently achieved the system clock rates and
levels of integration necessary to implement MPEG video encoders and other video components on a few chips or a
single chip. It should be possible to build and fly compact, lightweight video systems to Mars and near Earth in the next
few years even if radiation-hardened silicon is needed.

Near Earth Applications

Video technologies for Mars can be tried out first near Earth where a much larger potential market for video systems
probably exists. In addition, bit rates are not a restriction. High quality digital video is routinely relayed through
geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) satellites. Consequently, a video system in Earth orbit is highly feasible.

It remains difficult to service satellites in Earth orbit. The Space Shuttle and other manned vehicles appear to be the
only practical means to service orbital systems. This limits the lifetime of most satellites. Robotic servicing systems
have been proposed to extend the lifetime of satellites in Earth orbit. Video cameras on the robots would permit remote
operation or supervision of the robots in real-time. The remotely operated robots could refuel, repair, and upgrade
satellites in orbit.

Video systems in Earth orbit could be used to detect and monitor transient phenomena including the weather, fires,
automobile traffic, ship movements, and so forth. Several possible scenarios exist. The simplest would be a single video
camera with a telescope on a geosynchronous satellite. Gyroscopes could be used to orient the camera and track
phenomena on the Earth’s surface. A more complex system would be an array of video cameras and telescopes on a
single geosynchronous satellite.

A more ambitious scenario would be a constellation of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites providing global coverage. This
would require a sophisticated system for pointing the cameras at a target, stabilizing the cameras, and switching from
satellite to satellite as the moved in and out of observing range. One could envision hundreds of small satellites with a
single camera or a small cluster of cameras in polar orbits providing continuous real-time coverage of the entire planet.
LEO satellites would not require as powerful or bulky optics as the GEO satellites.

The Earth could be divided into hexagonal regions. A user would select a hexagon that they wanted to watch. Then
the system would route the video from the satellite in the constellation above the hexagon. As a satellite entered the
hexagon, it would orient its camera toward the selected target in the hexagon or provide a wide-angle view of the entire
hexagon. An adjustable mirror might allow the satellite to target a region within the hexagon quickly without expending
much energy or reorienting the entire satellite.

It is technically feasible to fabricate a single-chip or few chip MPEG digital video encoder using radiation hardened
CMOS semiconductor processes. Thus, there is no fundamental obstacle to creating compact, lightweight, low power
video systems for missions to Mars or other space missions.

Historically, full motion television in space has been restricted to special missions such as the manned landings on the
Moon, other manned missions, some weather satellites, and probably some classified reconnaissance satellites.43 The
advances in chip technology discussed in this paper make possible universal television for space missions, including
missions to Mars.

NASA Ames Research Center assembled a large team to prepare the Mars Airplane proposal that inspired this work. The
author thanks all members of this team, especially Julie Pollitt, Julie Schonfeld, Ruben Ramos, and Hiroyuki Kumagai.

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

The author thanks Andrew B. Watson of the Vision Science and Technology Group at NASA Ames Research Center. The
author also thanks his colleagues at the Desktop Video Expert Center − Steve Kyramarios, Mark Allard, Mike Fitzjarrell,
Kathy Charland, Steve Sipes, and Joe Flores. This research was supported in part by the Applied Information Technology
Division, NASA Ames Research Center and the NASA Research and Education Network (NREN).

1. Gilbert Levin and Ron Levin, “Liquid water and life on Mars,” Proceedings of the SPIE 3441, pp. 30-43, 1998
2. Robert Zubrin, “Long Range Mobility on Mars,” Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 45, pp. 203-210, 1992
3. Michael C. Malin and Kenneth S. Edgett, “Evidence for Recent Groundwater Seepage and Surface Runoff on Mars,” Science 288, pp. 2330 −
2335, 2000
4. Todd O. Stevens and James P. McKinley, “Lithoautotrophic Microbial Ecosystems in Deep Basalt Aquifers”, Science 270, pp.450-454, 1995
5. Guy Ourisson, Pierre Albrecht, and Michel Rohmer, “The Microbial Origin of Fossil Fuels”, Scientific American 251(2), pp. 44-51, August 1984
6. Guy Ourisson, Pierre Albrecht, and Michel Rohmer, “Palaeochemistry and biochemistry of a group of natural products: the hopanoids”, Pure
Applied Chemistry 51, pp. 709-729, 1979
7. John F. McGowan III, “Oil and natural gas on Mars”, Proceedings of the SPIE 4137, 2000 (in press)
8. John F. McGowan, “Video Technologies for Mars”, Proceedings of the Second International Convention of the Mars Society, Univelt
Incorporated, San Diego, 2000
9. ISO/IEC 11172, Information Technology – Coding of moving pictures and associated audio for digital storage media up to about 1.5 Mbit/s,
International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, November 1991
10. ISO/IEC 13818, Information Technology – Generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information, International Organization
for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, November 1994
11. Personal communication, Steve Townes, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109
12. Rolf C. Hastrup, Robert J. Cesarone, Jeffrey M. Srinivasan, and David D. Morabito, “Mars Comm/Nav MicroSat Network”, 13th AIAA/USU
Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, Utah, August 23-26, SSC99-VII-5,1999 ()
13. John Schroeter, Surviving the ASIC Experience, p.5, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1992
14. Zapex Research Limited, Netanya, Israel ()
15. Zapex Research Limited, Netanya, Israel ()
16. Winbond, Taipei, Republic of China ()
17. iCompression, Santa Clara, California, United States ()
18. Yoshiko Hara, “NTT weighs in with single-chip MPEG-2 encoder”, EE Times, October 29, 1998
19. Mitsuo Ikeda et al, “SuperENC: MPEG-2 Video Encoder Chip”, IEEE Micro, pp. 56-65, July-August 1999
20. NTT Electronics Corporation, SuperENC product data sheet; personal communication by Gary Webster of NTT Electronics Corporation
21. Panasonic (Matsushita Electronics) Single Chip MPEG-2 Video Encoder MN85560 Product Data Sheet
22. Masayuki Mizuno et al, “A 1.5-W Single-Chip Video Encoder with Low Power Motion Estimation and Clocking”, IEEE Journal of Solid-
State Electronics 32(11), pp. 1807-1816, November 1997
23. NEC Corporation (Japan), Single Chip MPEG-2 Video Encoder Product Data Sheet
24. Anthony Cataldo, “Video encoders and decoders unveiled at JES”, EE Times, October 9, 1998
25. Sony Semiconductor Corporation (Japan), “CXD1922Q MPEG-2 Technology White Paper”
26. Sony Semiconductor Corporation (Japan), Sony CXD1922Q Video Encoder Data Sheet
27. C.T. Chen, T.C. Chen, C. Feng, C.C. Huang, F.C. Jeng, K. Konstantinides, F.H. Lin, M. Smolenski, and E. Haly, “A Single-chip MPEG-2 Video
Encoder/Decoder for Consumer Applications”, Proceedings of the 1999 International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP-99), October 25-
28, 1999, Kobe, Japan
28. Stream Machine, “Stream Machine SM2210 MPEG-2 Video Codec Product Brief” ()
29. Tiosys Inc., “VICA2000 Product Brief”, ()
30. Vision Tech Limited, Herzliya, Israel, “Kfir Technical Specification” ()
31. Mitsubishi Electronics America, 1050 East Arques Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086, (408) 730-5900, “Mitsubishi Electronics MPEG-2 Encoder
Chip Set Achieves Main Level at Main Profile Encoding with Maximum of 10 Chips”, Press Release, December 11, 1995 ()
32. IBM Corporation, “MPEG-2 Multi-Chip Module Encoder and Decoder Release to Enable VBR Encoding”, Press Release, IBM, 1997
33. IBM Corporation, “MPEG-2 Real-Time Encoder Chipset”, Press Release, IBM, 1997
34. Philips Semiconductor, EMPIRE Product Data Sheet
35. Albert van der Werf, Fons Bruls, Richard P. Kleihorst, Erwin Waterlander, Math J. W. Verstraelen, and Thomas Friedrich, “I.McIC: A Single-
Chip MPEG-2 Video Encoder for Storage”, IEEE Journal of Solid-State Circuits 32(11), pp. 1817-1823, November 1997
36. Honeywell Solid State Electronics Center, 12001 State Highway 55, Plymouth, MN 55441, (800) 323-8295
37. S.T. Liu, W.C. Jenkins, and H.L. Hughes, “Total Dose Radiation Hard 0.35 µm SOI CMOS Technology”, IEEE Transactions on Nuclear
Science 45(6), pp. 2442-2449, December 1998
38. Personal communication from Tim Bradow of Honeywell, Honeywell Solid State Electronics Center, 12001 State Highway 55, Plymouth, MN
55441, (800) 323-8295
39. UTMC Microelectronic Systems Inc., 4350 Centennial Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, (800) 645-UTMC, UT0.6CRH Commercial
RadHard Gate Array Family Data Sheet
40. Personal communication from Vere Butler of UTMC

Real-Time Television Quality Full Motion Video for Mars Missions

41. Lockheed Martin Federal Systems, 9500 Godwin Drive, Manassas, VA 20110-4157, 1(800) 325-4019 (x4754), ()
42. Personal communication, Richard S. Flores, Sandia National Laboratories, Digital Microcircuit Design, MS 1072/Dept. 1735, P.O. Box 5800,
Albuquerque, NM 87185, (505) 844-7220 ()
43. William E. Burrows, This New Ocean, Random House, New York, 1998

– 10 –
Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

William F. Dempster

Atmospheric leakage from a Mars base would create a demand for continuous or periodic replenishment. This would
in turn require extraction or mining for oxygen and other gases from local resources and attendant energy requirements
for such operations. It therefore becomes a high priority to minimize leakage. This paper quantifies leak rates as
determined by pressure and the size of holes and discusses the implications of pressure for structural configuration. The
author engineered the sealing of Biosphere 2 from which comparisons are drawn.

Man has imagined travel to the Moon and planets, and in particular to Mars, for decades. Long term habitation of Mars
will require a substantial infrastructure for shelter and production of food. Enclosures for these purposes must retain
breathable atmosphere and limit leakage to rates that can be practically replenished from local resources or resupply
from Earth, i.e., to very low leakage rates. Leakage is largely driven by a pressure differential between the inside and
outside of an enclosure. It would be desirable to reduce the pressure to minimize leakage and reduce forces on the
structure, but pressure is needed to support both humans and plants.

Quantification Of Leak Rates

Hypothetically considering air leakage through a hole in the case where the outside pressure is less than half the inside
pressure, the mass flow rate is given by (Mark’s, 1987):
dm/dt = -0.53CPA/√T (1)
m is the mass of gas in the enclosure, kg
C is the coefficient of discharge, about 0.6
P is the inside pressure, kg/m2
A is the cross-sectional area of the hole, m2
T is the temperature, degrees K

The ideal gas law is

PV = nRT (2)
V is the volume of the enclosure, m3
n is the number of kilogram-moles of gas in the enclosure
R is the ideal gas constant for SI units, 847.8 kg-m/(kgmole-°K) and
n = m/M (3)
M is the molecular weight of the gas.

Combining (1) through (3) we obtain a differential equation for P as a function of time, t (seconds)
dP/dt = -0.53CPART/(MV√T) (4)
from which
dP/P = -0.53CAR√T/(MV) dt = -269.6A√T/(MV) dt (5)

William F. Dempster; Director of Systems Engineering, Biospheric Design, Inc.; 26 Synergia Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505; Tel. 505 438 9873;
Fax 505 474 5269; E-mail:
Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

Integrating, we obtain a decaying pressure in the enclosure

P = P0e-kt (6)

P0 is the initial pressure at t = 0 and
k = 269.6A√T/(MV) (7)

depends on the area of the hole, the temperature, the molecular weight and the volume of the enclosure.

To get order of magnitude estimates of the leakage impact of small holes on a prospective Mars base we take some

A) The average molecular weight of air within the enclosure is approximately 29. (For instance, pure oxygen is 32, pure
nitrogen is 28; Earth’s atmosphere is 28.96.)
B) The temperature of the air is 18ºC (64.4ºF) or 291ºK.

We are only investigating the order of magnitude of leakage. In this context, the results are not significantly sensitive
to the accuracy of the above assumptions.

We next construct Table 1 showing the percentage of the initial pressure that is lost over a year (t = 31,536,000 seconds)
for postulated Mars bases of given atmospheric volume and a single circular hole whose cross sectional area represents
the aggregate area of all holes in the system. One needs to consider what loss rate is acceptable in light of methods of
replenishing the atmosphere. If one sets an upper limit, for example, of ten-percent loss per year, then we see that the
tolerable hole size for, say a 1000 cubic meter Mars base, is less than 1/5 of a millimeter, which would be nearly
invisible. For a Mars base the size of Biosphere 2 (180,000 cubic meters), less than ten percent per year loss would
mandate aggregate equivalent hole size no larger than 2 mm diameter.

Comparisons To Biosphere 2
The serious implications of even very small holes was recognized in the design and construction of Biosphere 2 which
operated at an extremely low-pressure differential between inside and outside. The lung system of Biosphere 2 was built

Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

to absorb the expansion/contraction of the atmosphere while keeping the differential pressure less than 8 Pascal (0.08
mb or about 1/1000 psi). Testing by manipulating the pressure differential and measuring lung movements determined
that the aggregate of all holes in Biosphere 2 was equivalent to a single hole about in the range of 13 to 19 mm diameter.
The consequent exchange between inside and outside air amounted to between 5% and 10% of the total volume per year
even with the very high degree of pressure neutralization (Dempster, 1994). The equation of fluid flow at low
differential pressures is different than (1) above (Mark’s, 1987; Dempster, 1994).

The primary concept of Biosphere 2’s lung system was to protect the entire structure from explosion or implosion due
to the inevitable pressure differences that develop between the inside and outside of an airtight vessel on Earth as the
inside temperature, inside humidity and outside barometric pressure fluctuate. These pressure variations would have far
exceeded the Biosphere 2’s strength, and yet they are almost trivial compared to the huge forces tending to explode a
container in near vacuum which is pressurized to any significant fraction of a standard atmosphere. Because the
pressure variations in a Mars base will be very small compared to the absolute pressure, an expansion / contraction
system analogous to that of Biosphere 2 would be irrelevant on Mars.

Biosphere 2 could not have been sealed without a bottom liner, which was fabricated from 1/8-inch thick stainless steel.
A virtually infinite number of leak paths exist through the ground and the requirement for a bottom seal will be even
more critical for pressurized containment on Mars. A Mars base liner must be robust and, if in direct contact with
regolith, tough against abrasion and puncture. The chance of repairing a liner leak of uncertain location perhaps under
equipment or infrastructure or tons of plant growth soil with very little time to stem the loss of atmosphere is very slim.
Soil provides no significant barrier to airflow on a scale relevant to these concerns.

The possible range of atmospheric pressures and compositions is beyond the scope of this paper, but some general
considerations and anecdotal information are offered. As we will see below, the absolute atmospheric pressure has
profound structural implications and so it becomes desirable to minimize the required pressure. One can consider how
much margin of extra pressure above an absolute minimum is affordable in terms of mission cost and weight associated
with the enclosure’s ability to contain the pressure.

It has also been considered that space missions could use an enriched or even pure oxygen atmosphere for human life
support at reduced pressures. Provision of an oxygen partial pressure of about 200 mb offers equal oxygen availability
to what humans experience in Earth’s atmosphere. If the composition were pure oxygen, it would be only about 1/5 of
Earth’s atmospheric pressure. However, the fire hazard associated with enriched or pure oxygen atmospheres is
extreme. The fire that claimed the lives of three astronauts in the Apollo 1 accident occurred in a pure oxygen
atmosphere. The possibility of spontaneous combustion in enriched oxygen atmospheres is increased. The productivity
of plants in various atmospheric compositions and pressures needs to be researched in detail before an acceptable
artificial atmosphere for a Mars base can be designed.

Lowered oxygen availability has definite limits for human life support. The well-known slow oxygen decline in
Biosphere 2 from 21% to 14.4% over a 16-month period approached the limit before oxygen was injected into the system
to restore the vitality of the eight biospherians (Severinghaus et al, 1994). At 14.4% oxygen and total atmospheric
pressure of 880 mb at the Biosphere 2 site (1160 meters or 3800 feet elevation) the oxygen partial pressure was equivalent
to Earth’s atmosphere at 4160 meters or 13650 feet elevation. This compares to the highest human settlements.

Replenishment of a mixed gas atmosphere may imply different methods and systems to restore each component. If, for
example, in order to avoid the fire hazard of a pure or highly enriched oxygen atmosphere, nitrogen is designed to be
the most plentiful gas, as it is on Earth, sources of both nitrogen and oxygen are required. Nitrogen is over 2% of Mars
atmosphere (Meyer and McKay, 1996) and could possibly be obtained by separation, while oxygen might be obtained
chemically from CO2.

Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

Structural Implications Of Pressure

Typical habitation structures on Earth need not withstand strong differential pressures on opposite sides of their surfaces.
A worst case is probably a building struck by a severe tornado with winds of, say, 300 miles per hour (134 m/s). Such
a storm will destroy most Earth buildings, yet the wind pressure is only about 1120 kg/m2 (230 lbs/ft2). The pressure
of a standard atmosphere for comparison is 10330 kg/m2 (2116 lbs/ft2). The ambient atmospheric pressure of Mars is
only about 70 kg/m2 and is negligibly small as a counterbalancing force on the outside walls of a Mars base with
pressure adequate to support human life.

Artist’s renderings showing a Mars habitat built as a lightweight, transparent shell greenhouse sitting on the Martian
surface are plentiful but contradict basic pressure considerations. Even assuming an atmosphere reduced to 1/5 standard
pressure (which would need to be nearly 100 percent oxygen for human life support and carry attendant fire hazards as
noted above), the force tending to tear it off the Martian surface is extreme. For example, a structure with a 10-meter
diameter circular footprint and 1/5 standard atmosphere would have a total lift of 162,300 kg or 5166 kg per running
meter of the perimeter, or 5.17 kg per running millimeter of the perimeter. See Fig. 1.

A construction engineer seeking to anchor a perimeter wall against such uplift might drill anchoring bolts into bedrock
and set them with epoxy. If bedrock were not available and a perimeter concrete foundation ring were to be used to hold
the edge down by weight, the foundation ring would need be 2.7 meters wide x 2.7 meters deep allowing for Mars
gravity. The uplift per running meter of perimeter increases linearly with the overall diameter. This example assumes
1/5 standard atmosphere; higher pressures mean proportionally greater uplift.

To try to hold down the structure by loading a flat membrane floor with regolith fill faces the difficulties that the edges would
pull up unless the floor were stiffened. Conventional construction techniques to stiffen a 10 meter wide floor against the
bending forces generated from a 1/5 atmosphere pressure would call for 14-inch deep steel I-beams on 1 foot centers weighing
over 300 kg each. Also the fill would need to be 4 meters deep to counteract 1/5 atmosphere. See Figures 2 and 3.

Other structural forms that present difficulties are sharp corners and flat surfaces. A structure with a rectangular footprint,
even with a domed roof, will be subject to extreme stresses at the corners because the internal pressure will tend to flex
out the right angle at the corners. A flat surface 1 meter x 1 meter resisting 1/5 atmosphere pressure would have to be 6
mm thick steel or 21 mm thick glass. If resisting 1 atmosphere, the thicknesses are 13 mm steel or 46 mm glass.

Inflatables with no corners seem much more feasible for their lightweight, compact storage, and easy deployment.
However, the stresses must be carefully considered even with inflatables. The least possible tension is when the
geometry is a sphere. See Fig. 4. In our example of a 10-meter diameter sphere and 1/5 atmosphere, the tension at any
equatorial ring is 5.17 kg per running millimeter. If the thickness is, say, 2 mm, the stress is 2.6 kg/mm2 or 3670 lbs/in2.
A spherical fabric inflatable to 10 meters diameter and 2 mm thick would weigh approximately 625 kg (taking the
density of the fabric to be comparable to water). Thicker is stronger, but also heavier.

Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

Key questions are: can a flexible, lightweight material be developed with the required strength (also transparent or
translucent?) that resists ultraviolet degradation, and is tough against abrasion or puncture? Although the example of 1/5
atmosphere is used here, it is by no means assured that such a low pressure is viable considering the implication of high
oxygen concentration and associated fire hazard. The forces should all be multiplied by 5 for a standard atmosphere.

On-Earth Testing
Fortunately there are simple first approximation tests that can be performed on Earth for the concerns raised above.
Fabricate a candidate inflatable structure (or rigid structure, for that matter) and pressurize it to one atmosphere gauge
pressure or two atmospheres absolute pressure. On Earth this structure is experiencing the same pressure stresses as if
it were at one atmosphere absolute pressure on Mars. If it has significant leaks they will be diagnosed by the loss of
pressure over time. Any gauge pressure, P, on Earth will nearly simulate the absolute pressure P on Mars.

Broader Considerations
The concept of building a greenhouse on Mars suggests that natural light could be sufficient for plant growth. This is
a doubtful proposition. In Biosphere 2 the glass superstructure intercepted about 50% of the outside light in one manner
or another, whether by absorption or reflection of the glass, by shading of the struts or from shading by side walls or
parts of the structure. The net result was that between 45% and 50% of the exterior light was available inside for plant
growth. This was a serious problem for plant growth at the low light period of winter months and didn’t leave much
extra margin even in summer, which led to the installation of supplementary artificial lights in the agriculture biome of
Biosphere 2 after the initial 2-year closure trial. Mars is 1.52 times further from the sun, and so by the inverse square
law, sunlight at the outer edge of its atmosphere is 43% that of Earth. Atmospheric absorption and the absorption
spectrum determine how sunlight intensity at the surface of Mars compares to the surface of Earth. One reference notes
Mars surface sunlight to be about 60% of Earth’s (Boston, 1988). Further loss will occur getting through the transparent
or translucent greenhouse shell.

Maximization of entering sunlight argues for a thin shell. But this also means poor thermal insulation. Multi-layer
transparent shells with trapped air between layers are a common approach to insulation but the penalty is additional loss
of light at each layer. Typical temperature ranges on Mars may be roughly from -80ºC to 0ºC night to day (-112ºF to
32ºF). A greenhouse warmed only by direct solar radiation might only rise above freezing for a few hours on a relatively
warm clear day. A 10m x 20m x 5m high greenhouse with 2 to 4 layers in the shell, artificially heated to internally stay
above freezing in a nighttime ambient -50ºC, would require from 25 to 75 kilowatts continuous heating energy. A
massive warm soil bed can help only partially because the heat will only weakly rise up among the plants without some
artificial means of transfer and is also predicated on the soil bed having been thoroughly warmed in advance which will
not happen from sunshine alone. A 10m x 20m vigorously growing planting bed could be enough to support about one
person based on Biosphere 2 experience.

Airtight Sealing A Mars Base

Exposed surfaces are also exposed to ultraviolet degradation and the effects of windblown sand. Sand abrasion might
lessen sunlight transmission and, if extreme, threaten to wear a hole through the material. All of these considerations
tend to support the concept of a deeply buried greenhouse for thermal insulation, protection from sand abrasion and from
ultraviolet light as well as radiation hazards for humans. Drawbacks to deep burial are the requirement to dig deep and
the energy demand of artificial lights to grow plants.

Research Goals
New concepts have been advanced making travel to Mars seem increasingly possible (Zubrin, 1996). This paper may
seem to have presented difficulties that oppose that concept, but, to the contrary, it is intended to focus attention on the
challenges we must overcome to make Mars habitation a reality. A vigorous program to develop the technics of
habitation on Mars must be created. To this end the following research goals are suggested:

Create a flexible lightweight completely airtight fabric suitable for inflation to a full atmosphere pressure in large
assemblies. It should be highly resistant to abrasion, puncture and ultraviolet degradation and capable of mounting
fittings for airtight electric and fluid penetrations, for viewing windows and airlock doors. It should be able to be
repaired simply and quickly in the field while under pressure.

Develop a broad understanding of what atmospheric pressures and compositions are compatible with vigorous plant
growth, including genetic variants to further this goal. Develop understanding of the health effects for both humans and
animals of atmospheric pressures and compositions different from those of planet Earth. Investigate fire hazards
associated with enriched oxygen atmospheres. Develop high efficiency systems to separate Martian atmospheric
components and to produce oxygen from atmosphere or other materials found on Mars.

1. Mark’s Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers, 9th ed, edited by E.A. Avallone and T. Baumeister III, McGraw-Hill, 1987, pp.4-22 to 4-23.
2. Dempster, William F., Methods for Measurement and Control of Leakage in CELSS and Their Application and Performance in the Biosphere
2 Facility, Advances in Space Research, v.14, no.11, 1994, pp.331-335.
3. Severinghaus, Jeffrey P., Broecker, Wallace S., Dempster, William F., MacCallum, Taber and Martin Wahlen, Oxygen Loss in Biosphere 2.
EOS, Trans. American Geophysical Union, v.75, no.03, Jan.18,1994,pp.33,35-37.
4. Meyer, Thomas R. and Christopher P. McKay, Using the Resources of Mars for Human Settlement. AAS 95-489. Strategies for Mars, ed. by
Carol R. Stoker and Carter Emmart, Science and Technology Series, v.86, American Astronautical Society, 1996.
5. Boston, Penelope J., Mars Mission Life support. AAS 86-177. The NASA Mars Conference, Duke B. Reiber, Science and Technology
Series, v.71, American Astronautical Society, 1988.
6. Zubrin, Robert, The Case For Mars, Simon & Schuster, 1996.

The Author
William F. Dempster graduated in mathematics and physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963 and subsequently worked in
computer programming and systems analysis at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. He then participated in the founding of the Institute of
Ecotechnics, which helped to establish several projects worldwide integrating ecology and technics in complementary balance. He participated in
design and construction of an ocean-going expedition research vessel which circumnavigates the globe and on which he led a two-year expedition
up the Amazon River. He directed the engineering of Biosphere 2 from 1985 to 1994, invented and designed the expansion chambers called
“lungs,” invented one type of airtight glazing system and controlled the development of another glazing system actually used on Biosphere 2. He
devised and implemented the means of detecting leaks and measuring the leak rate of Biosphere 2. He also determined energy demands of
Biosphere 2, selected equipment and configured systems to meet those demands and demonstrated the certainty of water recycling and the methods
by which the recycled water is collected. He is Director of Systems Engineering for Biospheric Design, Inc. and is involved in planning further
closed biospheric systems.

Simulating “Mars on Earth”
A Report from FMARS Phase 2

William J. Clancey
By now, everyone who’s heard of the Haughton-Mars Project knows that we travel to Devon Island to learn how people
will live and work on Mars. But how do we learn about Mars operations from what happens in the Arctic? We must
document our experience – the traverses, life in the hab, instrument deployment, communications, and so on. Then we
must analyze and formally model what happens. In short, while most scientists are studying the crater, other scientists
must be studying the expedition itself. That’s what I have done in the past four field seasons. I study field science, both
as it naturally occurs at Haughton (unconstrained by a “Mars sim”) and as a constrained experiment using the Flashline
Mars Arctic Research Station.

During the second week of July 2001, I lived and worked in the hab as part of the Phase 2 crew of six. Besides
participating in all activities, I took many photographs and time lapse video. The result of my work will be a computer
simulation of how we lived and worked in the hab. It won’t be a model of particular people or even my own phase per
se, but a pastiche that demonstrates (a proof of concept) that we have appropriate tools for simulating the layout of the
hab and daily routines followed by the group and individual scientists. Activities – how people spend their time – are
the focus of my observations for building such a simulation model.

The FMARS Simulation

The FMARS simulation is constructed using a tool called Brahms (Clancey et al. 1998; Sierhuis 2001), which we are
developing at NASA / Ames Research Center.1 The components of a Brahms model are fairly easy to understand:

• People (Agents & Groups, e.g., biologists, the Phase 2 crew, the Capcom role)
• Geography (the building and its layout)
• Objects (e.g., cameras, tables, suits, documents)
• Activities (e.g., reading email, EVA prep, watching movie, downloading & sharing digital photos, debriefing,
sleeping, waiting for help to remove suit)

Why do we want to build such a model? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to write an ethnographic report? Most importantly,
model building is a tool for developing better social-psychological theories of human behavior. Through building the
FMARS model, we have come to better understand the nature of joint activities (collaboration, e.g., filling the water
tank) versus group activities (working together, but independently, e.g., using computers), the nature of dynamic
interactions (e.g., following someone) versus planned actions, and the different motives (e.g., having fun, physiological
needs) behind purposeful activity (Clancey, in preparation).

We also simulate life in the hab rather than just describing it because other aspects of the hab, especially the life support
systems and controlling software, will be extensively formalized and simulated in computer programs as part of a design
and test process. Without a complementary model of human behaviors, these system simulations will make assumptions
about loads placed by human activities (e.g., the power required in the hab at different times). System simulations also
tend to use simple models of how people use an interface to command control adjustments or respond to control software
requests. Using Brahms, we can develop an integrated simulation of systems and human behavior.

Finally, during a Mars mission itself a simulation could be useful for testing and instruction of revised procedures. For
example, we could revise a simulation to illustrate a new procedure, perhaps using new systems software, and then
upload the procedure, software, and integrated simulation to a Mars crew for them to investigate and interact with (i.e.,
real people interacting with simulated systems and agents). This could provide confidence that the new design will

William J. Clancey; Institute for Human and Machine Cognition; University of West Florida, Pensacola; On leave at NASA / Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA.
Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

work, as well as providing a valuable tool for eliciting the crew’s comments. With the inability to converse directly with
the crew (the support on Earth), we could even send simulated agents for the crew to interact with, agents who convey
the models and explanations of specialists back on Earth.

To summarize, the applications of a hab simulation include:

• Habitat design
• Automation design and testing
• Formalizing analog experimental protocols
• Crew scheduling
• Communication-coordination planning
• Training (especially by interacting within a simulation)
• Education – public outreach
• Research on work and behavior modeling

Our immediate interest is to develop Brahms well enough so the various applications can be explored in research
projects. For example, through NASA funding we have integrated the FMARS simulation with an existing simulation
of an air recycling system and an artificial intelligence monitoring and control system (Malin et al. 2000). The FMARS
simulation will place loads on the recycling system, providing a contextual model of hab operations for testing the AI
software. Furthermore, the (simulated) crew will interact with the AI software, for example, getting information about
resource capacity (e.g., oxygen reserves) needed for planning daily work. Applying the methods of instructional
systems (e.g., Clancey & Soloway 1990), we could develop programs that use a Brahms model to understand what the
crew is doing, so the programs could provide appropriate support.

How do we build the FMARS model? There are two primary methods (Clancey 2001): Participant observation
(learning by being a member of the crew) and photographic documentation (including time lapse). During my week in
the hab, I took regular notes about who did what, where, when, and why. Each day I added to this, refining with details,
and finally developing hypotheses about why activities unfold in the manner I observed. In short, we need a theory of
“what happens next.” What determines the next behavior of individuals and the group?

To organize my observations, I created a table in a document, with columns for the name of the activity, the location
where it occurred, the time, who participated, and comments. For regular activities, such as EVAs and meetings, I used
the table to record when the activity began and ended. By the fourth or fifth day I was able to sort the table more or less
chronologically for a typical day and segment it into broader categories (e.g., breakfast, briefing / planning, EVA).
Towards the end of the week, I began to refine some activities into subcategories (e.g., reasons for working at a laptop).
Finally, after I left the hab, I realized the significance of activities and modes of behaving that I had not thought to write
down earlier (e.g., listening to music while working at the computer).

My other notes were organized in an outline of incidents and issues, as they emerged during my stay:

• Steps in an EVA
• Troubleshooting incidents (e.g., electric generator, space suits)
• Why staterooms are not used during the day
• Traverse planning and navigation (e.g., avoiding mud)
• Problematic spaces (e.g., the workstation area is cramped)
• Non-issues (e.g., staterooms are quiet)
• Learning from analog experiments; how to improve them

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

At various times I wrote down where everyone was in the hab and what they were doing. This provides a snapshot of
life in the hab (“snaplists”). In retrospect, I should have done this on a regular basis (e.g., once an hour), for it would
be a good way of verifying the simulation model. I had also intended to follow someone every day, to note their
behaviors in some detail, but as a participant in the hab, where group activities dominated (mostly organized around
EVAs), this proved impractical. Finally, after I began to understand why activities occurred when they did, I realized I
needed statistical information about events (e.g., how often and when we received radio calls from base camp). Some
of this information should have been logged by the crew (e.g., generator failures). Other information, such as external
communications, could have been logged by mission support.

It requires more than a week to realize all that one might study, especially if psychosocial factors are included. I believe
that several weeks would be necessary to realize what categories are relevant; in general, multiple stays with different
crew combinations are desirable for making generalizations and understanding crew-specific practices.

What are the results of my observations? I now have a table with about fifty activities, grouped according to broad “times
of the day.” Here is an initial description of these broad periods during a day in the life of FMARS 2001 Phase 2:

• 0700-0900 Breakfast
• 0900-1030 Briefing / Planning
• 1030-1500 EVA
• 1500-1530 Eat and Clean up
• 1530-1700 Briefing and planning
• 1700-2000 Computers (email, photo download, software testing); data analysis in lab
• 2000-2100 dinner and cleanup
• 2100-2400 movies, refreshments (especially chocolate)
• after midnight: sleep, reading and writing

This outline is a broad abstraction, an average of seven days, not a schedule we followed. Nevertheless, the patterns
can be striking. For example, on three sequential days the EVA crew stepped into the airlock at 1105, 1106, and 1108.
No procedure required that we do this, it was just an emergent product of our intentions, the constraints of getting into
suits and fixing radios, and our other habits (such as when we awoke, how long it takes to eat, and time to arrange
personal gear). Absolute times will vary each day, but relative times, such as when a debriefing occurs after an EVA,
are more regular (in this case, about 30 minutes). This chaining of group activities is a key part of the order of the day
(which might be explained as part of individual, psychological processes).

What I have said so far should make clear why it’s not reasonable to expect a “human factors” report from the hab every
day, providing research results. Unlike the biologists and geologists, I do not collect isolated samples in plastic bags.
My daily observations are mostly too mundane to mention (as the pattern itself hardly seems surprising). Also, it takes
four to five days until apparent habits are established, and then a few more days before details can be filled in (e.g., what
are people doing for so many hours at their computers?).

Time Lapse Video Example of EVA Planning

An example analysis of a time lapse video reveals how I do my work and what can be learned. Based on an experiment
in the initial year 2000 occupation of the hab, I placed my Hi-8 video camera in the far corner, in front of the right-most
stateroom near the SE portal. I captured quarter-frame images (320 x 240 pixels) direct to disk every 3 seconds using
a PC Card and video-editing program. Experience in analyzing such time lapses since HMP-1999 showed this
frequency to be useful and sufficient. I captured two entire days in this way. In retrospect, I might have left the time
lapse running every day. Full analysis is tedious, but the time lapse is also useful for capturing broadly the behavior of
the group during critical periods, as the following example illustrates.

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

Before the EVA of July 15, the group discussed where to go. I was not part of the EVA crew, so I sat to the side writing,
but also observing. When the group all gathered around the commander’s laptop, I began paying more attention and
took photographs of the ensuing action. Similarly, the Discovery photographer picked up his video camera and began
filming the action. The incident was immediately interesting because it illustrated a group planning activity, using
multiple representations, coordinated with views through the portal, with people pointing and calling attention to
features throughout.

Fortunately, we have a time lapse recording of this activity, so we can see all movements, who is initiating changes, and
when the changes occur (within three seconds). The group moves like a flock of birds during a 12 minute period,
gathering at the laptop Landsat image (Figure 1), NW Portal (Figure 2), a projected map of crater, and an air photo on
table. Everyone participates. The commander tends to move in broad sweeps from one end of the floor to the other, to
be contrasted with pivoting around the central area of the floor or tagging along. One person appears to be interacting
with the commander most closely in these movements, suggesting a joint decision-making process. Another crew
member lags behind with his coffee, but always joins the group to share their view.

Figure 1. Hab crew planning a traverse, gathered together Figure 2. Hab crew planning a traverse, gathered together
to view a Landsat image of the von Braun Planitia on the at the NW portal to view the von Braun Planitia directly.
commander’s laptop computer.

Strikingly, the activity is clearly over when the commander,

the crew member who was speaking with him throughout,
and two other crew members stand to form a square and
laugh. It looks like closure (Figure 3). The group then
obviously disperses to prepare for the EVA.

This example illustrates the value of having a time lapse

recording at all times for the sake of capturing such group
activities. The photographs also illustrate that the
conventional manner of documenting such activity (notice
the Discovery Channel cameraman to the right of the group
in Figure 1) fails to capture the overall pattern of how
people are gathering and moving as a group. The time lapse
shows very well how one or two people reorganize the
activity by calling attention to different representations (the
photos and maps) and the views out the window. Thus, the
Figure 3. Four members of the six-person crew, at the end of
use of representations (including of course people’s
the decision-making process, now spaced around the room.
utterances) is strongly contributing to individual attention,

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

such that we can talk about a group activity. Finally, the time lapse provides a means of quantifying the duration and
phases of the decision-making activity. The end of the activity is particularly well marked (Figure 3).

How might this understanding of group planning be useful? Consider the value to mission support on Earth of such
(time-delayed) video. If the group weren’t moving together, we might wonder whether there was a disagreement. Or
perhaps the group had broken into subgroups to plan more quickly. Thus knowing what group planning looks like under
different conditions would be a useful clue to mission support about the crew’s attitudes. A theory of dialog as a spatial
phenomena, not limited to a computer screen, would also be useful for designing robots that track human speech, gaze,
and gestures to understand our intentions and communicate with us.2

Layout and use of space

An important part of the Brahms simulation of FMARS is a virtual reality depiction of the facility. The data gathered
includes extensive photographs of all objects and areas, close-up photographs for color and texture rendering, and a scale
drawing of the hab (Figure 4). This drawing shows the layout at a particular time, with the precise arrangement of
laptops and chairs.

Figure 5 illustrates how Brahms simulations will appear on the computer screen using a browser. Although we call this
the Brahms-VR system, the viewer is not immersed in the world, as in a virtual reality system. We refer to it as a 2 1/2d
depiction. The viewer could appear on-screen an “avatar,” a crew member in the simulation. In the prototype
implementation, we use the Brahms-VR system to view a simulation after it completes. The target design involves
dynamic interaction, so one may view the simulation while it is running, and the simulation itself will draw upon physics
modeling in the rendered world (e.g., to determine the path taken by an agent to avoid collision). There are many
fascinating problems to be solved here, including simulating agent postures, loudness of sounds (e.g., can someone on
the upper deck hear a conversation below?), sightlines, and joint actions (e.g., two people carrying an object).

Figure 4. Drawing of FMARS upper deck at 16:15 July 13, 2001.

One chair is on the lower deck; accuracy of laptop locations and chairs etc. within 3”.

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

Figure 5. Snapshot of virtual reality depiction of upper deck. Figure 6. Using the table for a joint task (filling out a questionnaire)

Of special interest is how use of hab facilities varies over time and with different activities (cf. Kantowitz & Sorkin
1983). Photographs and other observations suggest that the layout of tables is perhaps the most important aspect of
space design in the upper deck, aside from the staterooms and storage areas. The workstation area is the most obvious
area where design requires improvement. The built-in table is not deep enough (about 24 inches) and is too cramped
for six laptops plus a large server display (which hogs the most attractive area below the portal and blocks the view).
The mess table provided extra space (Figure 6).

Figure 6 shows a group activity, in which people are gathered together. In contrast, Figure 7 shows the activity of
individual work; people are apparently maximizing their separation.

Figure 7. Individual work, maximizing spacing from each other. Figure 8. Alternative configuration in a different phase;
separating the work area from the galley.

Compare Figure 8, showing a different layout used by another FMARS crew, later in the field season.

Now it isn’t possible to sit around one table as a group (this crew went to base camp for dinner). More work area is
provided, relieving the elbow-to-elbow crowding of the curved workstation area along the wall. Consistent with this
configuration, the tables on the upper deck were used as a general workspace area during Phase 2. Besides eating here,
people used the tables to: Play games, look at maps, clean cameras, prepare instruments for deployment, assemble and

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

test communications equipment, and analyze data (e.g., the magnification apparatus on the right table in Figure 8).
Notice also how items are stored on the tables during the day, including cups, notebooks, samples, etc. Would samples
be brought into the upper deck on Mars? Why aren’t equipment-related activities occurring downstairs? Issues of
space, lighting, and room temperature need to be considered (the lower deck of FMARS was typically 5 degrees C
cooler). Perhaps also the group enjoys being together.

Activity Drivers: What determines what people do next?

The most detailed aspect of the Brahms simulation is a description of each activity as a set of conditional steps or
alternative methods. That is, the conditions – when an activity is performed – must be specified. Given the table of
activities (outlined above), we see that group activities are the main driver of behaviors in the hab, fitting the chronology
of the day: Breakfast, Briefing, EVA, Debriefing, Dinner, and Movie. That is, during this phase in the hab, individual
behavior is constrained most strongly by coordinated group interactions. Furthermore, the daily EVA is the central,
pivotal activity of the day, with meetings, preparations, and even meals occurring around it. This implies that the
backbone of the simulation will be behaviors individuals inherit (in the Brahms representation) from the “Hab Crew”
group. Each behavior in Brahms is represented as a workframe, which is a situation-action rule. In general, the situation
(conditional part) of the key workframes for Hab Crew activities will specify either the time of day (e.g., morning
briefing) and previously completed activities (e.g., the post-EVA briefing).

Interruptions are secondary driver of behavior, including: Radio calls (from base camp) or satellite phone calls (usually
pertaining to our communications systems), systems emergencies (toilet, comms), hab maintenance (refilling the water
reservoir, refilling the generators), and media interviews (conducted in the lower deck). Frequency information for the
radio and phone calls might be determined from the time lapse. I did not have the time (or presence of mind) to
systematically gather information about the frequency and timing of when these activities occurred.

Individual activities, behaviors that are individually motivated and performed alone, fill the remainder of the day:

• science data processing (e.g., analyzing dosimeter data)

• report filing (both individual reports and the daily crew report prepared by the commander)
• email
• digital picture processing (backup, sorting, sharing),
• chores (cooking, emptying garbage, etc.)
• personal hygiene
• taking photos inside the hab (personal documentation)
• recreational reading

In summary, the conditions on activities are the group’s practice, interruptions (reactive behavior), and individual
practice. Individual activities may be periodic (e.g., checking email), based on time (a crew or personal habit) or based
on remembering something you planned to do in the hab. Group practice is mostly chronological, but is also scheduled
as required (e.g., cleaning the suits), chained (briefing follows an EVA), and reactive (e.g., handling emergencies such
as an electrical short in a backpack). Further analysis of this classification has led to better articulating the nature of
activity model, as compared to activity theory and task analysis (Clancey in preparation).

Lessons Learned about Analog Research

Of paramount importance, given the effort to build the hab, is determining what can be learned from an analog activity
such as FMARS and how the activity should be managed and controlled as a scientific investigation. As incidents occur,
such as problems with the generator and getting stuck in the mud during a traverse, one naturally realizes that the
similarities and differences to Mars must be sorted out. Here is one breakdown:

• What is relevant to the Arctic only? e.g., refueling generators with gas
• What might occur for different reasons on Mars? e.g., getting stuck in sand instead of mud

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

• What’s important that we might do better? e.g., interactions with mission support
• What’s difficult on Mars but easy in Arctic? e.g., removing helmet to clean visor

In general, the operation of FMARS suggests a tension between authentic science (with mission support as required)
and simulated operations (on the surface and at mission support). Taken to the extreme, the first point of view is that
FMARS is a research station to be used as a place for living and working in the Arctic, carrying out studies of science
and robotics that are appropriate for Mars mission planning. The other point of view is that FMARS is first of all a
simulated hab and crew occupations are simulated missions to Mars. In a simulation, there must be some clearly defined
procedures and a notion of “breaking the sim” (e.g., to clean a visor caked with mud during an EVA). This notion is
not relevant to the first idea, in which FMARS is just a habitat.

Is a compromise possible? Here is one suggestion: Analog habitats should be managed primarily for authentic science,
as a real mission operation (with planning & training), and secondarily as a research vehicle that simulates Mars (e.g.,
integration of hab, surface, and support operations). If the activities are not authentic, then the simulation has no
grounding. Alternatively, if the activities are authentic, then if the simulated constraints are limited but still valid, we
will still learn about scientific exploration relevant to Mars.

Authenticity in mission operations entails documenting communication and coordination protocols in advance, and
training everyone in simulations prior to the field season. That is, living and working in the hab is viewed as being a
mission, not a sim. (It might be possible to do the sim on-site at the Mars Dessert Research Station, prior to the formal

Example of analog analysis

Abstracting lessons from incidents is not easy. Often the literal events are irrelevant, but a broader moral lies in the
taken-for-granted context in which the event occurs. An incident during crew planning for an EVA illustrates my point.

The literal events are obvious to the observer: The hab crew is standing around the wardroom table, discussing how to
set a GPS device for the planned von Braun Planitia EVA. Which GPS “system” should they use? The discussion
concerned the nature of a GPS measuring system, and revealed that there were two alternatives available on their GPS
devices (WGS84 [degree latitude and longitude] and UTM [metric distance]). One crew member claimed that UTM
was becoming standard; the people going on the EVA were more familiar with measurements in degree/minutes. They
didn’t know how to use the GPS device to use or read UTM measurements.
The lesson to be drawn is not that astronauts going to Mars should be trained on how to use their equipment or that
standards should be adopted before the mission begins. Everyone already knows this. Surely a funded, actual mission
would have prepared the crew better. Rather, the less salient and important issue is that route planning was occurring
just before the EVA, not the evening before as I observed in HMP-1998 or as was deliberately scheduled during HMP-
1999 to coordinate with a mission support team in Houston. If mission support personnel were involved in choosing
routes, then the crew wouldn’t be allowed to wait until just before departure to plan the EVA, this would have to be done
the previous evening. So why did this group develop a different practice? My observation is that we were too tired
from the day’s activities and too busy reporting what we had done to think about the next day. Thus, we may have a
real issue here, which perhaps we thought we had understood in 1999. (Also, the 1999 after-dinner communication with
Houston focused more on reporting than planning.)

The example illustrates how a simple incident had to be interpreted in the context of previous field seasons, with
background knowledge about past NASA practices and expectations. From this we see that FMARS provides a research
opportunity for communications research, which can be exploited by enlisting more collaboration and establishing more
formal protocols for hab activities (e.g., working more rigorously according to a schedule that is coordinated with Earth
operations). Do we have the funds and committed external organizations (e.g., NASA, the Mars Society) to provide a
realistic mission support role? Or should communications research using FMARS be focused more on interactions
between the EVA crew and the hab?

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

The GPS example also illustrates that superficial reports about FMARS operations are unlikely to give the viewer an
understanding of what we are actually learning or could learn from future analog experiments. Such analysis is
especially the province of participant observers and modelers who study the scientists and operations in the analog
setting, applying the methods and perspectives like those I present in this report.

FMARS Research Opportunities

What scientific research can be done at FMARS? Researchers may want to consider this list when making proposals
for participating in hab activities:

Communication Protocols
• Enforce and document communications between EVA crew and mission support. Investigate especially exchange of
contextual information and instructions for using equipment.
• Contrast: Commander serves as communications hub with world’s experts / advisors vs. specialists in the crew
individually communicate with their own peers and private contacts
• Improve communications between the EVA crew and hab support using radio and video to provide a running commentary

Computer Infrastructure
• Integrate computers used for data gathering and analysis with the hab’s communications and computing system
• Facilitate and study data sharing among the crew (e.g., exchanging files using compact flash cards vs. a shared network)
• Develop computer records that crews leave behind for subsequent crews: Photographs, articles, history of activities,
maps (should mission support provide or supplement this repository?)

Laboratory and Data Analysis

• Determine the adequacy of laboratory equipment in the hab for data collection and analysis (e.g., rock slicing,
microscope with camera)
• Work collaboratively with experts on “Earth” for data collection planning, analysis, and interpretation.
• Determine laboratory space required and how to prevent intrusion from other activities

Living and Working Priorities in the Hab

As a rough cut, one can order priorities for the crew’s attention, based on basic needs and their interactions:
• Electricity, Toilet (electric), Water (pumped from outside hab), Food
• Private and quiet areas, especially dry and well-ventilated staterooms
• Unscheduled time for sleep and individual activities
• Work areas with adjacent space for personal items (e.g., notes, drinks)
• Personal storage areas (e.g., for cameras to be ready at hand)
• Dry and warm EVA clothing (suits)
• Cleanliness (showers, hot water)
• Entertainment (e.g., DVD movies)

Possibly the only item in the list of living and working priorities that might differ from previous studies of expeditions
(e.g., Stuster 1996) is the relative priority for unscheduled time. Because of good weather opportunities, interest in
trying the suits, presence of the press, and shortened phase duration it was desirable to have a significant EVA each day.
Preparation and reporting filled most of the remaining time, so the crew was far from being bored or feeling confined.
A pre- and post-occupation survey related to this list would be useful.

Using Brahms, we could formalize different schedules, layouts, and resource decisions (e.g., use of water). Design of
space habitats and missions will likely involve many tradeoffs and compromises, which a comprehensive simulation
should enable us to describe and evaluate.

Simulating “Mars on Earth” – A Report from FMARS Phase 2

I am grateful to the members of the FMARS Phase 2 crew for participating in this research: Steve Braham, Charles
Cockell, Vladimir Pletser, Katy Quinn, and Robert Zubrin. Conversations with Pascal Lee (Principal Investigator of the
Haughton-Mars Project), Maarten Sierhuis, Mike Shafto, and members of the Brahms team have been especially
valuable. For more information about Brahms see and papers at Funding for this research has been provided by the NASA’s Intelligent Systems
Program, Space Human Factors Engineering, and University of West Florida. The virtual world representation of the
hab has been developed by Bruce Damer and his associates at Digital Space, Inc. under NASA-STTR funding. See for information about the Adobe Atmosphere implementation.

1. Clancey, W. J., Sachs, P., Sierhuis, M., and van Hoof, R. 1998. Brahms: Simulating practice for work systems design. International Journal
of Human-Computer Studies, 49: 831-865.
2. Clancey, W. J. 2001b. Field science ethnography: Methods for systematic observation on an Arctic expedition. Field Methods, 13(3), 223-243,
3. Clancey, W. J. (in preparation). Simulating activities: Relating motives, deliberation, and attentive coordination. Cognitive Systems Research,
special issue on situated cognition.
4. Clancey, W. J. and Soloway, E. (eds.) 1990. Artificial Intelligence and learning environments. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
5. Kantowitz, B. H. and Sorkin, R. D. 1983. Human factors: Understanding people-system relationships. New York: John Wiley.
6. Malin, J. T., Kowing, J., Schreckenghost, D., Bonasso, P., Nieten, J., Graham, J. S., Fleming, L., MacMahon, M., and Thronesbery, C. 2000.
Multi-agent Diagnosis and Control of an Air Revitalization System for Life Support in Space. Proceedings of 2000 IEEE Aerospace
7. Sierhuis, M. 2001. Modeling and simulating work practice. Ph.D. thesis, Social Science and Informatics (SWI), University of Amsterdam,
SIKS Dissertation Series No. 2001-10, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, ISBN 90-6464-849-2.
8. Stuster, J. 1996. Bold endeavors: Lessons from polar and space exploration. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.

– 10 –
Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

Ned Chapin

A software agent is like a skilled surrogate to whom a person has delegated a measure of authority, but the agent takes
the form of computer software. The three main kinds of software agents come in five performance levels, and all differ
from traditional computer applications. The typical software agent acts like an errand runner, or like a messenger set of
“ears and eyes,” and typically provides a way of automating tasks that people find to be mundane dull and repetitive.
Six important determinants of a software agent’s usefulness in Mars missions are the agent’s capabilities, the scope of
the accessible data, the natural barriers present, the intentional barriers in place, the skills of the agent’s principal, and
the facilities and resources of the mission’s supporting infrastructure. A description of seven examples of possible roles
of agents on Mars missions highlights some aspects of the potential contribution of software agents. This leads to a
review of six major reasons why Mars missions will want to use agents, and four major reasons why Mars missions will
not want to use agents. The conclusion is that the pro reasons will outweigh the con reasons, in order to enhance the
value that human beings can contribute in Mars missions. But the con reasons are sufficiently strong to lead to
limitations in the use of software agents on Mars missions.

What is a Software Agent?

A software agent is a specialized computer program that operates in a communications-rich environment.1 It utilizes
that environment’s directory and switching facilities to pick message destinations and to change the routing of messages.
It utilizes search functions to find alternative destinations and data. It uses data formatting and storage functions to
generate messages and to provide a report on what it accomplished. The initial primary use of software agents has been
in gathering data accessible via the World Wide Web. Software agents have been likened to errand-runners.2 Their
owner-users – i.e., principals – tell them to go do something or to get some data. Once the principal tells the agent to
start work, the agent attempts to perform the task the principal requested including sending and receiving messages
without further guidance or intervention from or interaction with the principal. The agent is on its own in getting the
task done. But the agent always reports back to its principal, with data indicating the extent to which the agent was
successful in getting the assigned task completed that the principal had specified.

Effectively, this makes the agent a surrogate of the principal. Because the principal is the person who assigns the task
to the agent, activates the agent, does not intervene during performance, and receives a report from the agent, the
principal effectively makes a specific delegation of authority to the agent. Hence, the principal tacitly assumes
responsibility for what the agent does or fails to do. To minimize this responsibility, a popular role for agents has been
to serve as additional sets of “eyes and ears” for the principal. The tasks
assigned to such agents are usually to use messages to gather and report
data. An example on the World Wide Web of such an agent for which
nearly anyone can act as a principal, is the Ask Jeeves agent.3

Three kinds of agents are local or mobile, transient or persistent, and

action or intelligent. Combinations are possible and common, a situation
diagrammed in Figure 1. A local agent is resident on and works from its
principal’s computer. A mobile agent communicates itself to one or
more different computers and does part of its assigned task from those
computers as well as from its principal’s computer. Local agents
currently are more common than mobile agents. A transient agent is
created for and exists only until a task is done, when it then expires – i.e.,
it can only be used once, and if wanted again, must be recreated or
specifically reinitiated. A persistent agent can be used over and over Figure 1. The three kinds of agents each
have two prominent forms.

Ned Chapin; InfoSci Inc., Box 7117, Menlo Park CA 94026-7117, USA; Email:

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

again, and survives power downs of the principal’s computer. Most agents are made to be persistent because they have
the potential for continuing usefulness. An action agent delivers data to a receiver other than its principal, usually for
the purpose of directing an action, and informs its principal of the status of the data delivery, such as “antenna selector
set to low gain, 1999 Aug. 15, 16:37:04.” An intelligent or decision-making agent applies criteria to filter data and may
process data to fit its principal’s specification. Both intelligent and action agents are common. Software agents have
five levels of performance. These actually are just regions along an irregular line of increasing performance capabilities.
Agents at the three higher levels typically have the ability to utilize the results from agents they themselves generate –
i.e., they may launch and use cascades of subordinate agents. The list below of performance levels goes from low to

• Find-deliver-report. These agents find a communication path, use it to send data as specified by their principals, and
report back to their principals about their successes or failures. Interfacing with digital-to-analog and analog-to-
digital equipment may be involved. An example is the action agent noted above that reported “antenna selector set
to low gain, 1999 Aug. 15, 16:37:04.”

• Find-extract-report. These agents find one or several communication paths, use it or them to request, acquire, and
communicate a copy of some data, and report these data to their principals. An example is an agent that finds out
and reports on the processing status of a proposal for an increase in mission funding.

• Find-analyze-deliver-report. These agents find one or several communication paths, use it or them to request,
acquire, copy, and then analyze data, and afterward deliver some data selectively before reporting back to their
principals. An example is an agent that fills out and submits a simple business form for its principal, such as a
conference hotel reservation request.

• Find-extract-filter-report. These agents find communication paths, use them to request, acquire, and communicate
copies of some data that the agents then process with respect to some specified criteria, reporting the resulting data
to their principals. Some include learning capabilities. An example is an agent that locates the specific location on
Mars that at this particular time has largest dust devil moving more toward the equator than toward the pole.

• Find-extract-filter-integrate-report. These agents add the additional process of attempting to integrate data from
diverse sources that may require iterative find-extract-filter performance capability and may require interacting with
other software or other agents or both, before they report to their principals. These agents are still in the early stages
of their maturation, and some include learning capabilities.

Software agents are a kind of computer application, and share many characteristics in common with computer
applications generally. For example, they consist of computer software, they may be done in any computer
programming language (such as Java4) and use any technology (such as object-orientation), they may access files and
databases, they may interface or interact with other computer applications, and they may cause other software to run or
cease running, including other agents. However, software agents are different from traditional computer applications in
a number of ways. All of the following five differences must usually be present for the computer application to be a
software agent:

• Communications-rich environment. Computer applications can be developed to run in any operating environment.
Agents are specialized computer applications that require a computer communications-rich infrastructure. That
infrastructure must provide for relaying and switching messages over a network of computer-implemented nodes
where the nodes and the message conform to accepted protocols. The infrastructure must provide some directory
services, and some store and forward services. A strong communications infrastructure has been identified in prior
work as a desirable feature for most Mars missions.5 An intranet is an example.

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

• Limited functionality. Computer applications can be developed to have from scant to enormous amounts of
functionality. Agents are specialized computer applications that have limited functionality, like that granted typically
to errand runner and “go for” personnel. Two functions always present are message handling, and reporting to the
principal. Other functions present depend upon the agent’s level of performance, but the extent and variety of such
other functions are usually low. An agent may operate on inventory data or human resources data, but an agent is
much less comprehensive in functionality than an inventory system or a human resources system.

• Run at pleasure. Computer applications can be developed to run anywhere from continuously to periodically to irregularly
as needed. Agents are specialized computer applications that either run periodically or on their principals’ demands. That
is, the principal can set a specific schedule for when the agent is to run, or can on a per instance basis select when a agent
is to run. A software agent very rarely runs endlessly, but may run continuously for a fixed time duration.

• No in-process guidance. Computer applications can be developed to accept directive input data to any degree and at
any time to provide guidance during a run. Agents are specialized computer applications that accept guidance
normally only at the initiation of a run. Once initiated, agents normally run self-directedly without seeking or
receiving from their principals additional guidance or directions during the run.

• Routine task focus. Computer applications can be developed to have from a very narrow to a very broad focus, and
cover tasks that may be from very simple to extremely complex. Agents are specialized computer applications that
usually focus on the tasks that people find to be necessary but routine, dull, mundane, or boring – sort of the
equivalent of tying one’s shoes. Agents act like extra sets of eyes or ears or hands to relieve people from routine
tasks yet still give them the benefit of having the tasks done to their tastes. This can free people to spend more of
their time on what people are uniquely good at doing – handling the unexpected and the non-routine and the
stimulating tasks. Some varieties of traditional computer applications may appear to be agents, but really are not.
One example is a calendaring program. While it serves usually just a single user, it does not require a
communication-rich infrastructure. However, when a communications-rich infrastructure is present, some advanced
calendaring programs use agents to coordinate different people’s schedules, as in setting up a date and time for a
meeting. A second example is a computer virus. The releaser of the virus does not receive a report from the virus
program of the program’s infestations. A third example is the program that was used to control the Mars Sojourner.
Brian Cooper sat at a 3-D display at JPL and interactively provided guidance during a run. A fourth example is a
firewall. While it gathers data in a communication-rich environment, analyzes, filters, and reports (securely) to a
specific person, it runs endlessly. A fifth example is a disk defragmenter program for improving hard disk
performance on a computer. Even though it runs at its user’s pleasure, such a utility program does not require a
communication-rich infrastructure in order to run, and it reports nothing beyond a completion notice back to its user.

Production and Improvement of Agents

The production of agents for Mars missions will at least initially follow the common practices. Agents may be
developed to act as solo performers, or as collaborators, or as performers in a hierarchy of functionality implemented
with a mix of agents and traditional application software. Most personnel assigned to produce agents are usually either
outside contractors or from an organization’s Information Technology (IT) or Information Systems (IS) unit. More
rarely, a developer may be an individual who sees an opportunity and has sufficient expertise. The correction or
improvement (“maintenance”) of agents usually gets done by the developer or by personnel from same organization that
did the initial production (“development”) of the agents. When the original source does not supply the requested
maintenance within a reasonable time and cost, then the personnel actually using the agents either do the maintenance
themselves or seek an alternative source for it. Unmet maintenance on agents puts the same kind of drag on
organizational performance that does unmet maintenance on software generally.6 The four most common ways of
producing and improving agents are these:

• The traditional life cycles for development (“SDLC”) and for maintenance (“SMLC”) are followed using the
organization’s traditional assortment of processes, methods, techniques, and tools. Costs tend to be substantial and

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

depend on the level of performance wanted. Because specific software agents commonly help the work of one
person or a small group of persons, the total return or value to the organization comes out usually low to develop and
maintain agents. Hence, getting the development and maintenance done at all by an organization’s IT or IS unit can
become a hurdle when using a traditional approach. This tends to encourage a do-it-yourself approach among
potential principals who have sufficient expertise.

• Software generators sometimes provide an alternative for getting agent development and maintenance done. These
typically provide a selection of templates that the developer customizes before executing to produce the agent.
Instead of maintaining the agent, the principal has a new agent generated and uses it instead of the agent previously
used. The organization’s IT or IS unit may use software generators to save time and money in meeting principals’
requests for new or improved agents.

• Agent generators are specialized software generators specifically for producing agents. The developer specifies to
the generator the interface wanted between the agent and the principal, and what the agent is to do (an example is
LiveAgent7). The resulting agent typically requires that the principal have on the local computer a special software
environment to support the generated agent. Instead of maintaining the agent, the principal usually has a new agent
generated and uses it instead of the agent previously used.

• Learning agents are general purpose agents that are trained by the principal using them, somewhat like the process
of training speech recognition software to translate spoken words, given a user’s accent and pronunciation. This
makes the development time short because the general purpose agent already exists, awaiting training. The training
process converts the principal’s attempts to use the agent into frequent series of agent maintenance episodes, for the
principal effectively is the maintenance performer. The gain for the principal is personal control over the agent’s
performance. Learning agents are only now starting to be introduced.

Determinants of Mars Mission Usefulness

Agent Capability:
The capability of a software agent depends mostly on two factors: 1 – the technical expertise of the people who develop
and maintain the agent, and 2 – the quality of the communication among the principal and the developers and
maintainers of the agent. Both are critical, and typically keep changing as time passes.

Scope of Accessible Data:

The data accessible to the agent come from five main sources:

• New data acquisition activities,

• Existing mission files,
• Existing mission databases,
• Private data uncovered as a result of searching, and
• Publicly available data, as from libraries, the internet, government agencies, etc.

The data acquisition process, such as of the heat loss rate from the regolith at a location on Mars, may yield data in
digital form directly, or may need analog to digital conversion. In either case, the need for data reduction is common.
In some cases the data are so voluminous, such as data for mapping from synthetic aperture radar work, that the data
reduction requires a full-scale computer application. In other cases, the data amounts are modest and may be easily
handled by a software agent, such as of the heat loss rate noted above.

Natural Barriers:
The natural barriers mostly reduce data accessibility for the agent. Human forgetfulness, time zone differences, sun spot
interference with data transmission, loss of signal, personnel skill levels, hardware failures, bad weather (such as
hurricanes, ice storms, tornadoes, etc.), earthquakes, cultural differences (such as holy days and holidays), personal

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

health, and human conflicts can all be natural barriers adversely affecting agent performance. Less common natural
barriers typically come from limitations in scientific knowledge or engineering accomplishment, such as remotely
assessing the extent of an aquifer on Mars.

Intentional Barriers:
Intellectual property rights in data and professional ethics can be significant intentional barriers affecting data
accessibility. Firewalls, password protection, budget limitations, language and coding conventions, and data encryption
are barriers that can degrade or block agent performance.

Skills of Principals:
The skills of the principals are partly in the use of the agent, and partly in the design or specification of the agent. The
latter reflects the vision and desires of the principal – i.e., what the principal wants the agent to be able to do. This
depends greatly for Mars missions on the principal’s mission knowledge and role, and to a lesser extent on the
principal’s ability to see and understand the broader picture and context in which the principal and the mission operate.
Skill in using the agent can nearly always be improved by experience and experiment, or training. Most of the time,
most principals use less than a quarter of the capabilities of their software agents.

Infrastructure Facilities and Resources:

The extensiveness and richness of the computer and communications infrastructure significantly affect what agents can
do in three ways:

• Number and variety of data sources accessible,

• Remote capability invokable by the agent to support its performance, and
• Time required for the agent to do its work.

When the agent requires an infrastructure facility or resource to accomplish part of its work, the agent may either suffer
impaired performance or may attempt to seek elsewhere for the facility or resource. Either places a burden on the
infrastructure of increased communication load and increased processing load, and hence at the best, longer time for the
agent to accomplish its work.

Examples of Possible Mars Mission Roles

Get Surface Wind Velocity and Direction:
Consider the possibility that a manned or robotic base on Mars had twelve robotic meteorology data gathering sites
placed at significant points within a twenty kilometer radius of the base including a site at the base, transmitting gathered
data four times a sol to the base computer. A meteorologist might want to know at any time what was the surface wind
velocity and direction at some specific site or set of sites at a specific time subsequent to the most recent transmission,
such as now. A mobile persistent intelligent find-extract-report software agent could meet this need.

Scan Data on Ultraviolet Radiation Consider that as part of a research project on the effects of the ultraviolet flux on the
surface of Mars, a large database has been accumulated, a database that grows with each passing sol. The project’s
principal investigator might want to sniff the database for hints of trends that might point to research hypotheses worth
testing. A local transient intelligent find-extract-report software agent could meet this need if the agent could be
modified easily and quickly.

Direct Change of Action Alternative:

Consider a robotic hydrological project on Mars, with a computer-controlled drill, searching for underground water. The
spent special drilling mud is continuously analyzed on an automated basis, and the analyses reported on a regular basis
to the distant headquarters for human review. To meet non-routine situations, the headquarters staff could use a small
collection of software agents. For example, a mobile transient action find-deliver-report software agent could direct,
when the drill string has been withdrawn, what sensor probe to send down the hole, how far down, and at what levels

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

to take readings. Such use of agents can simplify the application software that controls the drilling process, and give a
better degree of supervision to the human personnel.

Locate a Needed Skill:

Consider a situation where the project team members on a Mars mission encounter an unexpected situation, where they
realize that even collectively they lack among themselves the skill, knowledge and experience to devise and carry out an
appropriate action response. They need to locate what they lack. For this purpose, a mobile transient intelligent find-
extract-filter-report software agent could search broadly for personnel who might be able and available to satisfy the need.

Establish Communication With a Resource:

Consider a situation where new geological research in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland has developed findings that
may be useful in interpreting the evidence of the geological past of Mars. However, the formal report lacks details that
may be helpful for an application to the Mars situation, and the research was not done by or for any Mars mission. A
mobile transient action find-analyze-deliver-report software agent could seek out acceptable communication links
between the Mars team and the geological researchers, given their respective situations and the general character of the
likely data to be transmitted in each direction.

Find a Component to Fit a Specification:

Consider the situation where the project team on a Mars mission realizes that the team needs a specific component to
fit a specification. But the available inventory of components (parts) is long, the stock numbers are non-mnemonic, and
the nomenclatures are abstruse. How can the component be found? A persistent mobile intelligent find-extract-filter-
integrate-report software agent could sleuth out the component and report its last known location, or if it be unavailable,
what are the suggested substitutes.

Place an Order for a Component:

Consider the situation where a needed component is unavailable, and the easy substitutes are not up to the demands of
the project team on a Mars mission. The question is then “make or buy or jerry-rig,” and whether any are viable options.
The more specific the team members can be in their requisition, the better service they can receive from their purchasing
or fabrication support personnel. A persistent mobile intelligent find-extract-filter-integrate-report software agent could
acquire and refine the data needed for a useful requisition to result in either a placed order, or fabrication directions, or
a work-around. In practice in such situations, the agent gets used repeatedly and may be modified as the refinement
process done with the data reported homes in on the suitable alternatives.

Pros of Using Software Agents on Mars Missions

The common reasons for proposing to use software agents on Mars missions all relate to improving the effectiveness
and efficiency of the mission personnel. Six major “pro” items are these:

• Save personnel and calendar time. An appropriately selected and deployed agent allows the principal to get
acceptable quality work done faster.
• Cut personnel effort. By using an agent, a principal can get some kinds of work done more easily with less bother
and less burden on other personnel.
• Reduce data overload. The principal can have an agent use available computer power to analyze and filter data
before reporting them.8
• Raise level of personnel accomplishment. Within available time and resources, the principal can use agents like
personal extensions to improve both the quality and the quantity of work done.
• Improve work consistency. Between modifications, an agent acts the same way each time it runs, assuming the
directions it receives and the context in which it operates are unchanged. Agents can be shared and used by multiple
principals to add more stability to the performance of the involved personnel.
• Facilitate changes to meet changing needs. Usually when the team members of a Mars mission realize that they have
new needs or that their needs have changed, they have the option to modify their software agents to address the new

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

set of needs. However, sometimes meeting some new needs can be best done by developing and using either new
or replacement agents.

Cons of Using Software Agents on Mars Missions

The usual main reasons for not using software agents on Mars missions focus on resource utilization and management.
Five of the most common reasons are:

• Agent performance depends on infrastructure. The natural and imposed barriers can limit the performance of agents
to the point of making them nearly useless. The most common difficulty is that the infrastructure does not adequately
support the agents. Much of the infrastructure used by some mobile agents may be beyond the control or
responsibility of the Mars mission.
• Agents burden the mission resources. The mission personnel who are the principals for agents take time to send out
their agents and to work with the data they return. Since only the simplest persistent local action agents are have
high complete success rates, and since the partial failure rate rises as agents become more complex and mobile,
principals can often waste time and effort in trying to get adequate performance from their agents. When a manager’s
subordinates use software agents, the manager’s supervision role becomes more difficult to do. Agents take up
computer storage space not only on the computer most-used by their principals but also as the agents are used, on
the mission’s other computers. Agents add a bursty and largely random demand on the available bandwidth used for
mission communications. Specialized mission support personnel are needed for agent development, for otherwise
doing agent development adds to the work of either principals or agent vendors or contractors. Agent maintenance
makes a similar but greater demand on mission resources and management.
• Agent usage reduces privacy and security. While mobile agents’ potential invasions of the security of data and the
privacy of personnel outside of the Mars mission may be of lesser concern to the mission, local and mobile agents’
potential invasions are of more noteworthy concern as regards the security of personal and mission data and the
privacy of mission personnel. The typical agent seeks data wherever it can obtain access that might be relevant. That
could be on a computer used by a principal’s co-worker or manager, or at a competitor’s site.
• Agent existence invites “anti-agents” and “evil” agents. To attempt to improve privacy and security protection,
computer users sometimes feel impelled to take counter action to try to thwart agents that may try to access data on
their computers. These typically take the form of intentional barriers installed both at shared and unshared computer
sites. An example is a firewall. Installing, using, and maintaining such protective measures add to the burden on
Mars mission resources. Protection against “evil” agents is difficult. An example of an evil agent is the software
created and used by hackers to snoop the contents of computers, files or databases for which they have no authorized
access. For instance, consider the software used to try to steal a copy of the credit card numbers and names of
customers of an e-commerce organization, or to copy classified data from a military headquarters.

The possible use of software agents on Mars missions has technical, managerial, and ethical aspects. These interact in
ways that depend upon goals, objectives, contexts, and circumstances. The technical aspects focus on the computer
communications-rich environment. Without it, software agents are limited in scope to accessing the data stored in just
one computer, the computer in which the agent itself runs as a minor occasional application. Computer communication-
rich environments typically require computers in server roles and connected communications gear in order to operate –
and that is in addition to whatever computers and associated local networking gear are used to connect the principals’
computers. While the hardware costs continue to fall and hardware capabilities continue to rise, personnel costs to
operate and maintain the computer communications-rich environment drift ever higher. Some software can help hold
down the personnel and hardware costs, but supporting a rich computer and communications infrastructure is a
(necessary?) burden on a Mars mission. The managerial aspects arise partly from the technical aspects just noted, and
partly from other factors. A Mars mission is not an independent entity, but relies on many other entities, some of which
may want to send software agents to access mission data, and some of which mission personnel may need to access (as
via software agents) as part of carrying out their roles effectively.9 In addition, both the mission environment and the
surrounding context are technologically heterogeneous and evolving, with a mix of old and new technologies. Personnel

Send A (Software) Agent On A Mars Mission?

skills, knowledge and experience also keep changing. None of these changes typically are in synch with changes in the
ever-changing demands upon the mission. Software agent capabilities add to potential flexibility, but also add to cost.
The cost benefit balance is not static, and is complicated by difficult to quantify personnel and personal considerations.
The ethical aspects arise mostly from trying to find an acceptable balance between good professional science,
engineering, and personal respect on the one hand, and the demands of the mission on the other. For example, someone
somewhere (such as a privately funded doctoral candidate at a university) having no affiliation with the Mars mission,
may be gathering data on a topic relevant to the mission, but not yet have the data fully analyzed and ready for
presentation or use. A member of the mission’s personnel acting as a principal might send out a software agent to locate
data on the topic, and the agent might find and report either a copy of the data or of the analysis results thus far. The
principal then does or completes sufficient analysis to make data immediately usable to try to meet a pressing critical
current mission need. Later, the principal might or might not send the source of the located data a “thank you” email.
Should the data have been accessed? Should notice have been given? Should the data have been used? Should
recognition have been given? Should payment have been made? Should compensation to the source have been made for
the consequences of the loss of publishable results? Should a liability claim have been pressed if the mission result did
not turn out as hoped?

A review of the pros and the cons points to an answer for the question in the title of this paper: “Send a (software) agent
on a Mars mission?” The rising costs of personnel and the falling costs of hardware will dominate, given the need to
have a strong communications capability in place on Mars missions. To help personnel be and stay productive, Mars
missions will send software agents for doing routine local repetitive tasks that can be satisfied by a find-deliver-report
or find-extract-report level of performance. Beyond that, moderation in usage will be expected, at least initially, by
asking mission personnel to respect limitations on the use of transient and mobile agents, and on all agents when higher
levels of performance are sought.

1. J. Bradshaw (ed.), Software Agents, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1997.
2. M. N. Huhns and M. P. Singh (eds.), Readings in Agents, Morgan Kaufman, San Francisco CA, 1998.
3. Ask Jeeves, Inc., URL:
4. D. Wong, N. Paciorek and D. Moore, “Java-based Mobile Agents,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 42, No. 3, March 1999, pp. 92-102.
5. N. Chapin, “Adaptable Software Needed for Mars Missions (AAS 93-866),” Case for Mars V (Science and Technology Volume 97), Univelt,
Inc., San Diego CA, pp. 91-105.
6. N. Chapin, “Software Maintenance Characteristics and Effective Management,” Journal of Software Maintenance, Vol. 5, No. 2, March-April,
1993, pp. 91-100.
7. B. Krulwich, LiveAgent, AgentSoft Ltd., Jerusalem, Israel, 1999.
8. P. Maes, “Agents that Reduce Work and Information Overload,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 37, No. 7, July 1994, pp. 31-40.
9. A. K. Jain, M. Aparicio and M. P. Singh, “Agents for Process Coherence in Virtual Enterprises,” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 42, No.
3, March 1999, pp. 62-69.

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System
A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet
W. Brimley, Ph.D., P. Eng.

Seven student teams at four Ontario universities (Queen’s, Royal Military College, Ryerson and York) were challenged
to perform the preliminary system design for a manned spacecraft capable of leaving Earth and traveling to Mars. The
crew is to land on the Martian surface, explore and then return to Earth. This manned mission to Mars uses the optimum
combination of the “Mars Direct” approach proposed by Robert Zubrin, and the NASA Reference Mission. The manned
mission would use departure from the International Space Station (ISS), with a direct descent to Mars using aerobraking
and parachutes, or a transfer vehicle may be left in orbit around Mars for the Earth return.

The complete spacecraft system to be designed, including its Ground Control Segment, is named the MMVS (Manned
Mars Vehicle System). Other components such as the propellant manufacturing plant and the nuclear power plant were
assumed to be available. However, complete mission planning including the precursor unmanned mission to place these
components on Mars was performed.

The results from the teams are summarized and compared. Student representatives will discuss their design and issues
they found. This presentation focuses on the achievements of students by demonstrating results from the team web sites
where the final reports are mounted. Benefits to our students such as participation in events such as this Mars Society
Conference are noted. Many former staff and student alumni are now employed in the space industry, or are enrolled
in post-graduate programs in universities including the International Space University.

The Interactive Learning Connection – University Space Network (ILC-USN) is a consortium of North American
Universities, Centres of Excellence, and industry that has successfully established an Internet based course in
“Spacecraft Systems Design.” Since the fall of 1995, 255 undergraduate and 13 graduate students have completed this
course at universities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

1.0 Project Introduction – Manned Mars Vehicle System (MMVS)

Student Teams were challenged to design a manned spacecraft capable of leaving Earth and traveling to Mars. The crew
will land on the Martian surface, explore and then return to Earth. The project will be a manned mission to Mars using
the optimum combination of the “Mars Direct” approach proposed by Robert Zubrin, and the NASA Reference Mission.

Royal Military College (RMC) recommended a “Modified Mars Mission” That would use departure from the
International Space Station (ISS), with a direct descent to Mars using aerobraking and parachutes. The return trip would
be to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The student Teams are required to calculate departure from Earth orbit (i.e., the spacecraft velocities and delta V’s
required) to travel to Mars and land on its surface. Then, after a stay on Mars, to calculate the return to Earth orbit. We
can assume the (MMVS) spacecraft will be assembled in low Earth orbit at the new International Space Station. Sizing
of the vehicle will be driven by the velocities and corresponding fuel mass calculations for a given payload (e.g., crew
compartment, ascent vehicle, etc.).

1.1 Mission Statement

The mission is to send a manned spacecraft to land on the planet Mars and after the crew explores Mars to return the
crew safely to Earth.

W. Brimley, Ph.D., P. Eng.; Operations Manager, Interactive Learning Connection – University Space Network,
School of Aerospace Engineering, Ryerson Polytechnic University
Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

The term project is to perform the preliminary system design of the manned spacecraft systems and components capable
of this mission. This complete spacecraft system to be designed, including its Ground Control Segment, is named
MMVS (Manned Mars Vehicle System). Other components such as the propellant manufacturing plant and the nuclear
power plant will be assumed to be available. However, complete mission planning including the precursor unmanned
mission is necessary.

1.2 Background
1.2.1 MARS Direct Plan (Zubrin)
Note: the following is a combination of Zubrin’s proposals.
1. Begins with the launch of an unmanned Earth Return Vehicle (ERV) that will land on Mars and manufacture
2. Two years later another ERV and a Manned Spacecraft (MMVS) leave Earth for Mars. The MMVS lander lands
next to the previous ERV and manufactured propellant. The second ERV may also land in close proximity to
provide a backup return vehicle (or land within a 300 km range from the initial ERV).
3. The crew leaves Mars after one and one-half years, using the first ERV. A second manned mission and third ERV
may land before they depart (more backup).
4. The landings continue, leaving a string of landing sites (base camps) across the Martian surface.

1.2.2 NASA Reference Mission

1. An unmanned ERV is placed in orbit around Mars. It is fully fueled and capable of remaining on orbit for over four years.
2. An unmanned cargo lander is launched and landed on Mars. It contains an unfueled ascent vehicle, propellant
production plant, nuclear power plant, and Habitat.
3. A manned lander is launched and lands in close proximity to the cargo lander. The crew lives in the Habitat.
4. The crew leaves after about 500 days using the ascent vehicle, performs a rendezvous with the ERV in orbit around
Mars and returns to Earth.

1.3 Assumptions
The mission concept is based upon those of Zubrin and the more conservative NASA Reference Mission (see reference
articles). However we are allowing for two major differences:
1. Assembly of the vehicle in LEO (i.e., at the ISS). The MMVS spacecraft is launched from the International Space
Station (ISS), whose orbit is assumed to be circular. The Orbit of the Earth is assumed circular, and the orbits of
the ISS, Earth, and Mars are co-planar.
2. The MMVS may perform a direct descent to Mars surface, or a transfer vehicle may be left in orbit around Mars for
the Earth return. The choice will be up to each design Team.

2.0 MMVS Operations Concept

The MMVS must be designed for assembly in low Earth orbit at the International Space Station (ISS) using existing
technology. The MMVS must safely carry a crew and necessary life support for a round trip from the ISS to Mars

2.1 Mission Profile:

1. Launch MMVS components to the ISS using NTS Space Shuttle, and or expendable vehicles such as Russian
2. Assemble MMVS at the ISS using Canada’s SRMS (Shuttle Remote Manipulator System, SSRMS (Space Station
Remote Manipulator System), and SPDM (Special Purpose Dexterous Robot).
3. Check out and Test MMVS at the ISS.
4. MMVS unberths from ISS and departs for Mars when assured propellant stock has been manufactured by previous
Cargo landing.
5. MMVS executes trajectory burns and maneuvers to enter Mars orbit or performs a direct descent.
6. Landing on Mars at predetermined landing site which provides a propellant manufacturing facility with previously
manufactured propellant, and nuclear power plant (and Habitat an option).

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

7. Explore Mars and obtain propellant from site storage

8. Depart Mars
9. Rendezvous if necessary with Earth return vehicle.
10. MMVS executes trajectory burns and maneuvers to rendezvous with the ISS.
11. Berthing of MMVS to ISS

2.2 Additional MMVS Functions:

Remote Control; Ground Operated (Option / Back-up)
MMVS Command and Control
• Telefunction
• Human-in-the-Loop
• Automatic Control
• Robotics
• Cargo and propellant manipulation (loading / off-loading)
• Vehicle berthing / deberthing
Transportation – Transport crew and/or cargo into space (sub-orbital or Earth orbit)
Return of crew and cargo
Life Support – Provide life support for IVA and EVA crew.

3.0 Team Designs

Table 3.1. Comparison of Some Student Team Designs against ISS

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.1 Team York

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.2 Team Ryerson

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.3 Team Queen’s #1

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.4 Team Queen’S #2

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.5 Team Queen’s #4

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

3.6 Team RMC

Spacecraft Systems Design of a Manned Mars Vehicle System A Fourth Year Student Team Project Using the Internet

4.0 References
1. Zubrin and the Mars Society: USA:
2. Canada:
3. NASA:
6. “Islands in the Sky” by S. Schmidt and R Zubrin, Wiley Popular
7. Science, 1996, ISBN 0-471-13561-5
8. “The Case for Mars” by R. Zubrin with R. Wagner, Simon &
9. Schuster, 1996, ISBN 0-684-82757-3
10. “The Future of Space Exploration,” Scientific American (May 1999) which contains a few articles including Sending Humans to Mars by
Robert Zubrin.
11. A magazine article: Popular Science, February 1999 “Manned Mission to Mars.”
12. A magazine article: Newsweek, July 25, 1994 “Next Stop Mars.”

– 10 –
Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment
in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

Mark Nelson

Wastewater treatment in space, as on Earth, is needed for elimination of health hazards but could also include recycling
and utilization of the valuable resources contained in sewage: nutrients and water. Prior to the Biosphere 2 experiment,
1991-94, bioregenerative life support facilities, such as the Russian Bios-3, accomplished only re-use of urine
wastewater. Biosphere 2, utilizing a surface-flow wetland treatment system, achieved total recycle of wastewater within
the closed ecological system. The wetland system produced fodder for domestic animals and acceptable levels of
wastewater purification. Research and development subsequent to the Biosphere 2 experiment, in Mexico and
Indonesia, have demonstrated the advantages of subsurface flow wetlands. These advantages include: increased
treatment per unit area, lower maintenance and operating time requirements, safer production of food crops, capability
of sustaining high biodiversity and elimination of odor and accidental contact. This type of ecological engineering can
demonstrate the congruence of solving environmental problems on Earth and advancing space exploration and
habitation. “Wastewater gardens” can be modified for space habitats to lower space and mass requirements, and can be
a valuable part of overall food production, as well as assisting in air and water purification.

Wastewater Health and Environmental Problems – On Earth

Pollution of water resources by improperly or inadequately treated domestic wastewater (sewage) contaminates drinking
water supplies and so is a leading cause of human disease worldwide (U.N., 1995). Health problems related to sewage
are widespread, ranging from children swimming in open sewage treatment ponds, failure of leachfields due to wet
season inundation, and sewage effluent pollution of groundwater, rivers and lakes with adverse impact on drinking water
quality and recreational use of these resources. Water pollution includes pathogens carried by improperly treated
sewage and potentially toxic chemicals. Pathogens include disease-causing bacteria, protozoa, viruses and helminths.
Chemical hazards include heavy metals, organic chemicals, and nitrates in sufficient concentrations to cause illness
(Krishnan and Smith, 1987).

Especially for small, rural and isolated communities, there is great expense and difficulty in maintaining the highly
technical systems that they are given. It is frequently reported that such systems are poorly maintained, their
performance declines with age, and inadequate sewage treatment results. For developing countries, there is great
difficulty in the high costs of sewage collection and the centralized conventional (high tech) sewage treatment facility
itself (Reed et al, 1995).

In addition to issues of human health, the release of nutrients from wastewater causes eutrophication (nutrient pollution)
in the environment, leading to a wide range of environmental problems. These negative impacts from wastewater
discharge include coral reef decline, ecological degradation of rivers and lakes including oxygen depletion/fish kill, and
giving competitive advantage to weed species over native plants in ecosystems impacted by release of human

New Ecological Approaches

But the past several decades has also produced development of new approaches to wastewater utilization, stemming
from a fundamental change of perspective based on a total ecosystem approach. “Wastewater” is in fact a valuable
source of nutrients and water, upon which ecologically flourishing wetlands can exist. Wetland scientists have
demonstrated that not only natural but also properly designed and constructed man-made wetland ecosystems are
extremely efficient at utilizing and cleaning such nutrient-rich waters (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1993,).

Mark Nelson; Chairman, Institute of Ecotechnics, Vice President, Wetland Treatment Systems, Biosphere Foundation; 7 Silver Hills Rd.,
Santa Fe, NM 87505, Tel. 505 474 0209; Fax 505 424 3336; E-mail:
Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

The new disciplines of “ecological engineering” and ecotechnics seek to utilize predominately natural, ecological
mechanisms in integrating human economy with the biospheric ecology. This approach turns out not only to be easy to
maintain but highly efficient in turning what was previously “waste” into green plants and reusable water. Wetlands are
also lower cost, in that there is far less reliance on complex technology, which is capital and maintenance-intensive, and
uses much electricity / fuel. Designing the wetlands to do on-site treatment greatly reduces the costs of sewage collection.
The use of ecologically constructed wetlands for human sewage treatment relies on the ability of green plants and non-
pathogenic microbes rather than expensive machinery. Designed wetlands create a “buffer” ecosystem between the human
economy and the environment to mitigate negative impacts, increasingly illegal as well as unpleasant and unhealthy.

Wastewater Treatment in Closed Ecological Life Support Systems

Prior to the Biosphere 2 experiment (1991-1994), the most advanced testbed for bioregenerative, closed ecological
system space research was the Bios-3 facility operated by the Institute of Biophysics, Siberia. The 3-6 month long 2-
person closure experiments in Bios-3 achieved near total air and water purification, some 50% of food production, but
only recycled the crew’s urine. Solid metabolic wastes were exported from the facility (Terskov et al, 1979).

NASA scientists, led by Bill Wolverton, at Stennis Space Center experimented with wetland systems and applied them
to NASA testbeds in the 1980s, but not in the context of human closure and life support experiments (Wolverton, 1990).
The wetland treatment approach was further developed by the creators of Biosphere 2, and tested in a very small system
for one-person closure experiments of 1-21 days in the Biosphere 2 Test Module before application for the design crew
size of 8-10 people in Biosphere 2 (Alling et al, 1990, Nelson et al, 1994).

In Biosphere 2, the wastewater system functioned as part of the sustainable food production system through the
production of forage for domestic animals, and by the utilization of excess nutrients remaining in the wastewater effluent
for crop irrigation (Nelson, in press). The system handled all wastewater from the human habitat (toilet, kitchen,
shower, laundry), domestic animal urine + pen washdown water, and effluent from medical/analytical laboratories and
workshops inside the facility. The system used anaerobic holding tanks (which functioned in a similar fashion to septic
tanks) as a first step, then circulated the wastewater between three interconnected fiberglass tanks which contained the
wetland system. The system contained soil-rooted emergent wetland vegetation and floating aquatic plants in the water
channels. Wastewater input averaged around 260 gallons/day (1 m3/day) into a total wetland area of 41 m2 and
produced 1,213 kg of vegetation during the 2-year experiment that was periodically cut for fodder to feed domestic
animals. Available sunlight was a limiting factor for plant growth, as only 40-50% of outside sunlight was received
inside Biosphere 2. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), a measure of total organics in the water, was reduced by 75%
from influent levels from the holding tanks. Final disinfection (if needed) was with high intensity UV lights (Nelson et
al, 1998b). Since the health status of the crew was known, and no infectious diseases were present, the disinfection was
not used during the two-year closure.

The 2-year closure of Biosphere 2 (1991-3) marked the first time that all wastewater was successfully recycled within
a closed ecological life support system for people. The wetland treatment system continued to be used during the seven
month second closure experiment with a 7-person crew (March-September 1994). The system included 15 species of
vascular wetland plants, and provided additional wildlife habitat (Nelson, 1998b).

Research and Development with Wastewater Gardens (Approach)

In research subsequent to the Biosphere 2 experiment, the author working in collaboration with the Planetary Coral Reef
Foundation (a division of Biospheres Foundation) and the eminent systems ecologist, Prof. H. T. Odum of the Center
for Wetlands at the University of Florida, developed an innovative approach to wastewater treatment using man-made
wetlands, employing subsurface flow (Nelson, 1998a). This basic approach, which the Institute of Ecotechnics has
refined, has been extensively tested and successfully applied in the United States and Europe over the past several
decades (EPA, 1993). The Institute’s advanced design, Wastewater Gardens, which raises artificial wetlands to a
complete system, is now operating in over forty sites in southern Mexico, Belize and in Bali, Indonesia.

Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

The Ecotechnics’ system uses simple but very effective design principles. Primary treatment, to separate solids, occurs
in a conventional, watertight septic tank or settling lagoon. But then instead of passing directly into a leachfield, with
its attendant problems of little further treatment, smell, clogging and large size, the nutrient-rich wastewater effluent is
fed into a lined, two-cell, subsurface flow wetland. In this type of wetland the sewage water is kept 5-10 cm. below
the surface of a bed (0.5 – 1 m deep) of gravel. The treatment compartments are planted with a wide variety of wetland
plants, specially selected for the locality, into the gravel bed filled with sewage water. As entering effluent overflows
the first stage cell, it passes to the second, and then to a comparatively small subsurface discharge or the treated water
can be recycled for further irrigation of lawns, shrubs, flowers or trees. Wastewater is generally held in the wetland
systems for 5-7 days.

Subsurface flow systems have long hydraulic residence times and through a variety of mechanisms (Table 1) have
achieved large reductions in coliform bacteria without the use of disinfectants like chlorine used in conventional sewage
treatment (Reed et al., 1995). Chlorine has the potential to form toxic byproducts, such as chloramine, when released
into marine environments (Berg, 1975). Bacteria can break down chlorinated hydrocarbons into compounds that may
be far more dangerous than the original ones (Gunnerson, 1988), and sometimes de-chlorination has been required by
regulatory agencies, further adding to the expense of such approaches (Kott, 1975). Subsurface wetlands use little or
no electricity and technology and require little technical supervision once installed (Cooper, 1992, Steiner and Freeman,
1989; Green and Upton, 1992; Steiner et al, 1992).

Table 1. Contaminant removal mechanisms in subsurface flow wetlands (after Watson et al., 1989)

Wastewater Garden – System Advantages

Advantages of the ecological subsurface flow wetland approach include:

1. Fecal coliform bacteria are reduced more than 99% in the wetlands, without the use of expensive, environmentally
harmful chemicals like chlorine. Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) reduced 85-90% from influent levels, and
removal of nitrogen and phosphorus is substantial.

Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

2. The wetlands are low-cost, low-tech and long-lived. Maintenance requirements are simple. These systems require
only 5-10% of the labor and expense of more technical wastewater treatment systems.
3. There is no malodor as the sewage is kept from contact with the air.
4. There are no mosquito-breeding or other nuisances associated with open wastewater (e.g., sewage lagoons or
surface-flow wetlands).
5. The possibility of accidental public contact with the sewage is virtually eliminated as the sewage is kept below the
surface of the gravel bed.
6. Subsurface flow wetland systems are capable of extremely high rates of wastewater cleaning. In research over the
past several decades, this type of wetland, even in its earlier design forms, has a well-documented track record of
consistently cleaning water to levels better than municipal standards for wastewater treatment.
7. The intensity of treatment is such that only 1/2 - 1/5 the area is required compared to a surface-flow wetland (Kadlec and
Knight, 1996). Every particle of gravel becomes colonized by the natural variety of microbes that are effective in utilizing
and treating wastewater, and the root systems and water/nutrient uptake of the plants increase treatment efficiency.
8. Where higher treatment than normal municipal standards is required for special purposes, an increase in wetland
area can provide the equivalent of advanced water treatment.
9. Significantly less wastewater (35-70% depending on design) is discharged from these special wetlands, because the
plants use large quantities of water in their transpiration.
10. Subsurface wetlands can be exactly sized from small units for a single residence to larger areas for small city/town
systems. On the other hand, new demands can easily be met by simple unit expansion.
11. The wetland systems add considerably to the landscape beauty in communities where they are used, and can also
include plants to be harvested for useful or salable products.

In detailed research conducted along the coast of the Yucatan, in southeastern Mexico, and critically checked by
University of Florida scientists, Wastewater Gardens™ were tested as a means of preventing pollution damage to off-
shore coral reefs. An area of 3-4 square meters of wetland per full-time resident proved capable of removing 85-90%
of BOD, nitrogen and phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria was reduced 99.8+% without use of chemicals. Two
Wastewater Gardens totaling 130 square meters, served to treat the gray and black water of 40 residents, and supported
65-70 varieties of wetland plants. Biodiversity was three times greater than in adjoining natural mangrove wetlands,
and only 5% less than in the inland tropical forest areas (Nelson, 1998a).

Table 2 compares the prototype Wastewater Gardens researched in the Yucatan, Mexico with average values for
subsurface and surface flow wetlands in North America (Kadlec and Knight, 1996, Nelson, 1998a). BOD loading for
the Yucatan wetlands is slightly higher than the average subsurface wetland and removal rates are higher (88% vs. 69%).
Total phosphorus loading in the Yucatan was less than 40% that of average North American systems and removal is 76%
vs. 32%. Nitrogen loading in the Yucatan is around 4/5 that of typical subsurface flow wetlands, and removal efficiency
is 79% vs. 56% for North American systems. Many subsurface flow wetlands in temperate climates are started with
just a few plant species, often virtually monocultural systems. These systems composed exclusively of Typha latifolia,
Scirpus spp. or Phragmites australis are less attractive and less beneficial for wildlife. However, some large surface
flow systems have included natural wetlands and been managed to foster a wider biodiversity of plants and habitats
(Kadlec and Knight, 1997; Reed et al, 1995).

The plants, specially selected for ecosystem fit and productivity, used in the Wastewater Garden systems are key to their
performance. In addition to direct uptake of the nutrients contained in the sewage water, wetland plants act like oxygen-
pumps, supplying their root systems with the aeration required for growth. In the process, the plants create micro-zones
for aerobic bacteria to flourish. Thus, the wetland has both anaerobic and aerobic biochemical reactions, which aids in
recycling of nutrients and treatment of the wastewater.

The opportunities for beneficial and productive use of the wetland plants give a great range of choice. The wetlands
can be used for creating beautiful gardens and landscape diversity of home, business, hotel or town. The gardens can
also feature productive plants, such as flowers for sale, fiber / fodder plants and timber trees. Plants harvested above

Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

the dry surface of the gravel pose no danger of wastewater contamination, and so food crops can be grown. Other
opportunities include botanic garden displays, and for creating additional areas of wetland ecosystems, with rich
biodiversity, wildlife and bird habitat, to compensate for wetland loss elsewhere.

Table 2. Comparison of loading rates and removal efficiency of Yucatan, Mexico Wastewater Gardens
(with average North American surface and subsurface flow wetlands)
(Nelson, 1998a, Kadlec and Knight, 1996)

Space Applications of the Technology

This approach to wastewater seems ideal to support long-term space exploration and habitation where bioregenerative
resupply of food is utilized. This is because the wetland treatment system requires the same environmental conditions
necessary for crop plant growth: light (sunlight or artificially produced) and warm temperatures. Since the wetland
systems rely on green plants and microbes, they perform even better in warm, sunny conditions than the successful
wetland systems in cold climates such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and northern United States. In milder
conditions with higher temperatures and increased light, system effectiveness is high year-round. These environmental
conditions may well be the case in “space greenhouses” as such conditions optimize crop growth and thus will also
minimize greenhouse area requirements.

The low-labor requirements and absence of consumables also makes subsurface flow wetlands advantageous for space
application. Once set-up, they will require no resupply from Earth of machinery or chemicals and will make little
demand on valuable astronaut time.

It is probable from what we currently know of Mars surface geology that Martian soil and rocks can be mined and
screened to supply the gravel substrate of the wetland systems. Mars soil evidently contains many of the micro-nutrients
necessary for life, and what is lacking may be amended by the nutrients contained in human wastewater (Stoker et al,
1993, McKay et al, 1993). For initial wetland systems, one strategy to lower mass requirements is by using lightweight
plastic (e.g., Styrofoam) which would provide the required microbial surface area, but without the weight of
conventional rock gravels.

Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

A further consideration favoring bioregenerative approaches to wastewater treatment for space habitats is that many of
the more technical approaches previously advocated, such as wet oxidation and supercritical oxidation, in addition to
requiring more technical maintenance, labor and power, result in the reduction of the wastewater nutrients to simple
molecular form, with a consequent loss of chemical bond energy (Swartzkopf and Cullingford, 1990). This is not true
of wetland systems that recycle the valuable nutrients in forms available for bacteria, algae and higher plants.

The required wetland treatment area for Mars habitats can be considerably smaller than in most terrestrial applications,
if the wetland is connected to the main food-cropping agricultural system. In this case, the holding tanks and small
wetland area can serve to separate solids, and initiate microbial purification of the wastewater. There would be no need
for achieving high nutrient uptake, as the effluent water from the wetlands would carry those nutrients to the soils of the
agriculture system, helping to maintain soil fertility. The plants grown in the wetlands (e.g., rice, banana etc.) would
add to overall food production. There are also synergetic benefits of the use of this wetland treatment system for air
purification and potable water production. The wetlands will help recycle and purify the internal air of the space habitat.
The high transpiration rates of wetland plants release pure water to the internal habitat atmosphere that can be condensed
as a source of potable water (as was successfully done in Biosphere 2).

For use in prototype Mars bases (such as the Arctic base currently envisaged by the Mars Society for Devon Island in
the Canadian Arctic), the wetland systems may assist in prevention of contamination of local surface and groundwater
resources. Subsurface flow wetlands may be located inside the prototype Mars habitat, since they have no malodor and
would give the crew the pleasure of beautiful gardens. Artificial lights would be needed for wetland plant growth but
their waste heat might effectively warm the interior. Wetland plants would help prevent “sick building syndrome” by
absorbing trace gases that accumulate in tightly sealed buildings. In addition, developing wetland systems for use in the
outside Arctic environment could be useful in preventing water pollution from the other members of the scientific
research teams. Such specially developed wetland systems, using plants native to the region, might elicit interest for
use in indigenous communities, National Park facilities and mining towns in the north of Canada.

1. Alling, A., Leigh, L., MacCallum, T. and N. Alvarez, 1990. Biosphere 2 Test Module Experimentation Program, pp. 23-32 in: Biological Life
Support Technologies: Commercial Opportunities, M. Nelson and G. Soffen (eds.), NASA Conference Publication 3094, Washington D.C.
2. Berg, G., 1975. Regional problems with sea outfall of sewage on the coasts of the United States, pp. 17-22, In: Discharge of Sewage from Sea
Outfalls, A.L. Gameson (ed.), Pergamon Press, Oxford.
3. Cooper, P.F., 1992. The Use of Reed Bed Systems to Treat Domestic Sewage: The Present Situation in the United Kingdom, pp. 153-172, in
Constructed Wetlands for Water Quality Improvement, Moshiri, G.A. (ed.), Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL.
4. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), 1993b. Subsurface Flow Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment: A Technology
Assessment, U.S. EPA Office of Water (4204), EPA 832-R-93-008, Washington, D.C.
5. Green, M.B. and J. Upton, 1992. Reed bed treatment for small communities: U.K. experience, pp. 518-524 in Constructed Wetlands for Water
Quality Improvement, Moshiri, G.A. (ed.), Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL.
6. Gunnerson, C.G., 1988. Wastewater management for coastal cities: the ocean disposal option, World Bank Technical Paper Nbr. 77, World
Bank, Washington, D.C.
7. Kadlec, R.H. and R.L. Knight, 1996. Treatment Wetlands, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL.
8. Kott, Y., 1975. Effluent quality of chlorinated sewage discharged from sea outfalls, pp. 155-164, In: Discharge of Sewage from Sea Outfalls,
A.L. Gameson (ed.), Pergamon Press, Oxford.
9. Krishnan, S.B. and J.E. Smith, 1987. Public Health Issues of Aquatic Systems Used for Wastewater Treatment, pp. 855-878, in: Aquatic Plants
for Water Treatment and Resource Recovery, K.R. Reddy and W.H. Smith (eds.), Magnolia Publ., Orlando, FL.
10. McKay, C.P., Meyer, T.R., Boston, P.J., Nelson, M., MacCallum, T., and O. Gwynne, 1993. Utilizing Martian resources for life support, pp.
819-844, in: Resources of Near-Earth Space, eds. J.S. Lewis, M.S. Matthews and M.L. Guerrieri, University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
11. Mitsch, W.J. and J.G. Gosselink, 1993. Wetlands, 2nd Ed., Van Nostrand Rheinhold, NY.
12. Nelson, M., 1998a. Limestone Wetland Mesocosm for Recycling Saline Wastewater in Coastal Yucatan, Mexico. Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of
Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville.
13. Nelson, M., 1998b. Wetland systems for bioregenerative reclamation of wastewater – from closed systems to developed countries, Journal of
Life Support and Biosphere Science, vol. 5:357-369.
14. Nelson, M., Finn, M, Wilson, C., Zabel, B., van Thillo, M., Hawes, P., and R. Fernandez, (in press). Bioregenerative recycle of wastewater in
Biosphere 2 using a created wetland: two year results, Ecological Engineering, issue on Biosphere 2.
15. Nelson, M., Dempster, W., Alvarez-Romo, N. and T. MacCallum, 1994. Atmospheric dynamics and bioregenerative technologies in a soil-
based ecological life support system: initial results from Biosphere 2, Adv. Space Res. 14 (11): 417-426.

Subsurface Flow Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment in Mars Prototype Testbeds and Mars Surface Habitats

16. Reed, S.C., Crites, R.W., and E.J. Middlebrooks, 1995. Natural Systems for Waste Management and Treatment, McGraw-Hill, NY.
17. Steiner, G.R. and R.J. Freeman, 1989. Configuration and substrate design considerations for constructed wetlands wastewater treatment, pp.
363-377 in Constructed wetlands for Wastewater Treatment: Municipal, Industrial and Agricultural, Hammer, D.A. (Ed.), Lewis Publishers,
Boca Raton, FL.
18. Steiner, G.R., Watson, J.T. and K.D. Choate, 1992. General design, construction and operation guidelines for small constructed wetlands
wastewater treatment systems, pp. 499-507, in Constructed Wetlands for Water Quality Improvement, Moshiri, G.A. (ed.), Lewis Publishers,
Boca Raton, FL.
19. Stoker, C.R., Gooding, J.L., Roush, T., Banin, A., Burt, D., Clark, B.C., Flynn, G. and O. Gwynne, 1993.The physical and chemical properties
and resource potential of Martian surface soils, in: Resources of Near-Earth Space, eds. J.S. Lewis, M.S. Matthews and M.L. Guerrieri,
University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
20. Swartzkopf. S. and H. Cullingford, 1990. Conceptual design for a lunar base CELSS, in: Engineering, Construction and Operations in Space
II, ed. S. Johnson and J. Wetzel, American Society of Civil Engineers.
21. Terskov, I.A., Gitelson, J.I., Kovrov, B.G. et al. Closed System: Man-Higher Plants (Four-Month Experiment), translation of Nauka Press,
Siberian Branch, Novocibirsk, 1979, NASA-TM-76452.
22. United Nations, 1995. Guidelines on Environmentally Sound Development of Coastal Tourism, Economic and Social Commission for Asia
and the Pacific.
23. Watson, J.T., Reed, S.C., Kadlec, R.H., Knight, R.L. and A.E. Whitehouse, 1989. Performance expectations and loading rates for constructed
wetlands, pp. 319-348, in Constructed wetlands for Wastewater Treatment: Municipal, Industrial and Agricultural, Hammer, D.A. (Ed.), Lewis
Publishers, Boca Raton, FL.
24. Wolverton, B.C., 1990. Plants and their microbial assistants: nature’s answer to Earth’s environmental pollution problems, pp. 60-66, in:
Biological Life Support Technologies: Commercial Opportunities, M. Nelson and G. Soffen (eds.), NASA Conference Publication 3094,
Washington D.C.


You might also like