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Mars Colony

By

Wanwarisa Krittiyasrisumet (Pretty)


Nichaporn Nattawut (Earn)
Pemika Phatthanakittichai (Pair)

Astronomy
Mr. Gopinath Subramanian
Mahidol University International Demonstration School
Semester 2 Academic Year 2018-2019
Introduction:
Earth is the most abundant planet in the solar system. However, with years of pollutions,
global warming, natural resource depletion and overpopulation, Earth is heading for an
environmental collapse. This urges scientists to find a new planet for inhabitant and Mars is the
most suitable candidate for that purpose. Mars is the closest neighboring planet to Earth with
habitable environment. With the findings showing that there is carbon, a fundamental element of
life, existing on Mars, more scientists decide to deepen the knowledge and understanding of
Mars.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun with red tint color, caused by iron oxide on its
surface. There are several similarities between Earth and Mars. First of all, same as Earth, Mars
has both South and North polar ice caps which are made of frozen water. Scientists, therefore,
believe that life could have existed here. Secondly, the length of day is almost identical to the
Earth with 24 hours and 39 minutes long. Therefore, it would not be that different to live on
Mars. Thirdly, Mars’ soil contains of water. In other words, we will be able to get water from it
if we extract them. Mars furthermore has its atmosphere. Even though the atmosphere is
significantly thin compared to Earth, it can protect us, humanity, from Sun’s radiation. Another
factor is that Mars’s gravity is at 38% of the gravity on Earth which scientists believe to be the
level that is adaptable to human.
However, there are still some conditions that needs to be further adjusted to suit such
human’s needs as oxygen to breath, food to eat, water to drink and housing to live. In this report,
we will explore possible ways in which human can inhabit Mars by considering the resources on
Mars and adapt them to fit human needs.

Background information:
Condition on Mars:
Mars’ atmosphere is approximately 100 times thinner than earth’s. Its atmosphere is
made up of 95.32% of Carbon dioxide, 2.7% of Nitrogen, 1.6% of Argon, 0.13% of Oxygen,
0.08% of Carbon monoxide and the other 0.13% is composed of minor amounts of water,
nitrogen oxide, neon, hydrogen-deuterium-oxygen, krypton and xenon.
It was theorised that about 3.5 billion years ago, Mars’
atmosphere is dense enough for water to be on its surface without
evaporating. There are many evidences found that support the
theory. First, the discovery of a water-soaked rocks on the surface
of Mars, slabs of ​CO​2 ice and vast lands that are large enough to
once be an ocean. Nonetheless, the atmosphere of Mars has
thinned down from some unidentifiable condition, leaving the
surface with only iron-infused dust. Now, the atmosphere of Mars
is thinner than Earth’s by approximately 100%. Due to that
reason, sandstorms that occasionally occurs on Mars isn’t as
dangerous as its force is only 10 mph because of its thin atmosphere. ​Because of Mars’ thin
atmosphere and its distance from the Sun, it is cold and lifeless. The temperature on Mars is
much lower than Earth’s, comparing to an average of -80 degrees Fahrenheit or -60 degrees
Celsius to Earth’s average of 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit or 14.6 degrees Celsius. Mars temperature
ranges from -125 degrees Celsius in the poles during winter to 20 degrees Celsius in the midday
near the equator. 20 degrees Celsius is still a manageable temperature, so temperature is not a
prominent factor to consider. However, unbreathable air becomes a problem, as organisms need
air in order to survive. The major component of the air in Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide
(approximately 95%). With this small amount of oxygen (0.13%), humans and other living
creatures, including plants, will struggle to live comfortably on Mars.
Mars’ thin atmosphere allows the coronal mass ejections that are released by the collision
of prominences on the Sun, which is called solar flares, to enter Mars’ atmosphere. The solar
materials that are released during solar flares is radioactive, thus, it causes radiation on Mars.
Albeit the radiation level on Mars does not exceed the limit that human body can withstand,
prolonged exposure to radiation on Mars can cause long term effects on the human body, and
this can become one of the concerns to settle a colony on Mars.

Magnetic Field:
Mars has no inner dynamo to create the major global magnetic field. However, there is
still magnetic field on Mars, but with a lower strength than Earth, and it only spread within a
small scale. This simple magnetosphere of Mars help prevent charged particle from solar wind to
reach the planet’s surface. Mars also gain additional layer of magnetosphere from solar wind.
Solar wind carries with them the magnetic field lines from the Sun. These lines are not able to go
through Mars as Mars is an electrically conductive object, therefore, these magnetic field ended
up wrapping around the planet and creating more magnetosphere to Mars.

Seasons:
Similar to Earth, Mars has four seasons. However, due to its tilted axis, the period in each
season varies among different hemisphere. According to Universe Today, the Martian year is
twice as long as an Earth year, which is about 1.88 years. Since the year on Mars is longer, the
seasons are also longer as well. Spring is the longest season which lasts for 7 months, then
summer for six months, then follows by fall and winter descendingly. As mentioned above, the
average temperature on Mars is much lower than Earth’s, even during summer. The temperature
in the northern hemisphere can range up to -20 degree celsius while the temperature in the
southern hemisphere can range up to 30 degree celsius. Due to the difference in warmth among
each hemisphere, it can cause dust storms which varies in size according to the area.

Structures and Materials:


Model:
● Glue
● Cleared tape
● Duct tape
● Card boards
● Foam
● Plastic sheets
● Bagasse paper
● Paints/ watercolor/ acrylic color
● Cutter
● Scissors
● Rulers
● News paper
● Straws

Real structure:
● Radiation resistant glass → to make dome
● Aluminium/ metal → build robots
● Aluminium/ metal → housing
● Aluminium/ metal→ station
● Carbon-fibre plastics/ glass fibre →wind turbine
● Concrete → raised level for planting
● Aquaplate and galvanised steel → water tank

Working Process:

Planning and sketching


Researching about Mars

Making the canyon on Mars by paper mache


Colouring Process

Making the model of the research institute


front: Containers & water tank, back: painting research institute

The making of the glass dome model


The making of the glass dome model

Making of the glass dome and the walkway between each dome

Finished product
Danger & Challenges on Mars:
● Low/negligible magnetic field on Mars> cannot deflect radiation
● Lacks of ozone layer
● Air composed of more than 95% of carbon dioxide, only 0.13% is oxygen
● The temperature is significantly colder than Earth’s (16.8 degree celsius)
● Soil composed of mostly iron oxides, making it unplantable
● Thin atmosphere causes high amount of radiation
● Difficulty in finding water because there is no water on the surface of the planet as it will
quickly evaporate dueto the thin atmosphere

Magnetic Field:
With low magnetic field, an array of particles from the Sun will continually bombard the
surface of Mars, causing Mars to not be a safe place to live. Because there is no shield of
magnetosphere to deflect out the electrically charged particles from solar wind. Therefore, come
up with the thought of creating artificial magnetic field. The artificial magnetic field can be
created by placing a satellite equipped with technology to produce a powerful magnetic field at
Mars L1. Mars L1 is an area around Mars where gravity from the Sun balances gravity from
Mars. With this procedure, the magnetic field can be created on Mars. By creating artificial
magnetic field, the surface of the planet will be safer with less radiation and charged particles
from solar wind.

Radiation:
Even though the amount of radiation on Mars is not exceeding the limit that human can
withstand, it is still be a problem in the long term effect. Being experienced in radiation for a
long time causes depletion to humans skins and body. It can cause cancer and radiation
poisoning, which will be dangerous to human and lead to fatal. To prevent over exposure, we
build a dome that made of radioactive resistant materials to cover up the living area. People
would also have to wear their proper suits before going out of the dome.

Planting on Mars:
● Removal of Perchlorates in martian soil
○ Perchlorate is a compound that is abundant on Martian surface. Albeit the
concentration of perchlorates on Martian surface is between 0.5 to 1 percent, it is
still considered toxic to living organisms (David, 2013). While perchlorates can
be hazardous to living organisms, it can also be resourceful to living things if the
compound are decomposed into Chlorine and usable Oxygen gas.
● Create nutritious soil
○ To be able to successfully plant crops, nutritious soil and appropriate condition is
needed. Because the Martian soil mostly consisted of iron oxide and perchlorates,
it is unsuitable for plants as it is toxic. In our first flight to Mars, we will bring
with us the nutritious soil from Earth.
○ Fertilizer can also help to improve nutrition of the soil.
● Create planting environment
○ Create a raised zone to put nutritious soil on
○ Build a glass dome to protect plants from harmful ultraviolet and prevent them
from exposing extremely low temperature of Mars. Dome also make it easier for
us to control the surrounding conditions to suit our plant best. For example,
amount of water, temperature and oxygen.
○ Due to the distance of the Sun to Mars, it reduces the amount of sunlight that
reaches Mars’ surface. Thus, Artificial lighting will be installed in order to grow
plants on Mars
● Water
○ Water will be saved in another dome and goes to this planting dome through the
vessels.
● Plants
○ Plants on Earth will not grow well on Mars, so it is more rational to use a
synthetic biology to develop crops only for Mars. GMO plants specifically
designed to fit the condition on Mars is more suitable.
○ During the first stage, small plants and vegetables can be experimented to
cultivate to determine whether our regulated condition is suitable for plant growth
or not, otherwise, new methods can be experimented to suit the needs.

Robots:
After landing on Mars on the first time, we as astronauts will drop robots on the land.
● Types of robots
○ Observatory “Oppa”
- This type of robots is required to observe an overall environment,
including the temperature, atmosphere, level of radiation and the amount
of perchlorate and iron oxide in the soil. Then, send all information to the
astronauts on Earth to process the next step.
○ Digging “Diggy Diggy Doo”
- This type of robots is required to spot the water and dig it in order for
humans to drink and use.
○ Constructor “Pioneer”
- Their job is to create the dome from the materials we brought from
Earth. In case the materials are not enough, there will be a signal to tell us
to bring more materials.
After landing on Mars on the second time, we will see whether “Diggy Diggy Doo”
finish their job on finding and digging for water or not. We furthermore will bring more
materials; in case it is needed.

Remove carbon dioxide - create more oxygen


First of all, the removal of carbon dioxide will be done by
exchanging carbon dioxide on Mars into an usable energy in
which the robots can use to do things during the absence of
human.
Canned oxygen supply and tank oxygen supply will be brought
with the spaceship to Mars. Oxygen in the container will be
released into the dome area with shelters and planting. Some
canned oxygen will be stored to use in the case of emergency.
Oxygen generator machine will also be brought with us. They
will be located inside each dome station to provide sufficient need
of oxygen for human and plantation.

Oxygen will be renewed through the process of photosynthesis in


plants. By planting a lot of trees and crops, we will be able to
supply both food and maintain the amount of oxygen. Another method is to use chemical process
to decompose the perchlorate ( C lO4− ) into C l− and O2 .

Wind turbine - generate electricity


We will use wind turbine to generate electricity and create electrical supply on Mars.
Because of Mars’ thin atmosphere and strong wind, the occurrence frequency of sand storm on
Mars is high, meaning that there must be enough wind to use as the electricity generator. Wind
turbines will be located up on places with high terrace like mountains or hills.

Solar cell - alternative way to generate electricity


Solar energy is an alternative way to generate electricity apart from wind energy. By
generating electricity using both ways, we will be able to generate sufficient electricity, despite
the fact that there is less sunlight on Mars. We will use sunlight as efficient as we can by using
three-layered solar cells instead of a single-layered solar cells. These three-layered solar cells are
able to absorb more sunlight than the single-layered one. With more sunlight absorbed, more
energy can be made and can be used on Mars. We will use this energy to run the factories, firms,
lighting and robots. This solar energy can also be stored and used in case there is no wind to
generate electricity from wind turbine.
Mars’ observation and exploration
Robots will be used to observe the area and territories on the planet. With this
exploration, we are looking for fuel sources and water sources. By using robots instead of
human, we can save more time to do other things such as doing research and staying in the lab.
Robots can also deal with the condition better than us people as robots don’t need oxygen for
breathing and robot can deal with radiation from the Sun. Robots can also deal with extremely
cold or hot temperature, and they don’t get tried.

Finding water
Studies have shown that there are indeed liquid water on Mars. However, the perchlorate
content in the water body is unsuitable for humans and plants to consume. Thus, we have
researched for alternative ways to synthesis water. The first solution is to use the Zubrin method.
Zubrin has suggested that the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere can be used to react with
hydrogen that is brought along from Earth to produce methane, which will eventually result in
the by product of clean water according to the chemical process:
C O2 + 4H 2 → CH 4 + 2H 2 O
However, the Zubrin method is not sustainable in long terms. The synthesised water
would only last for a few days without recycling. Thus, a more sustainable way to synthesized
water is to extract water from soils on the Martian surface. Studies have shown that about 4-20%
of water can be extracted from martian soil depending on the area. There are two methods of
extraction that have been proposed. The first method is to compress carbon dioxide in the
martian atmosphere, and release it into martian soil. The compressed carbon dioxide gas will
react with the water locked inside the soil which will, in turn, release it to be collected. The
second method is to heat up the martian soil to 500 degree celsius. The water will be released in
the form of steams, which can then be condensed, and resulted in desalinated water.

Steps:
1. First, we need to create an artificial magnetic field by ​placing a satellite equipped with
technology to produce a powerful magnetic field at Mars L1. After achieving this
process, we are then able to proceed to the next step.
2. After landing on Mars for the first time, we as astronauts will drop three types of robots
on the land. One will work on observation and analysis of the land and atmosphere. Then,
the data will be sent to Earth for analysis and to see the probabilities of the plan. Also, the
data will be needed to see whether the information above is accurate and can be used as a
reference. One type of robots will scan the land for water and dig far down towards the
water sources. The last type of robots will work on constructing the domes for living,
planting, checking before entering the living dome and the last dome for keeping water
sources.
3. In case the materials for constructing the domes are not enough, the robot will send the
signal to Earth so that we can know and send more materials from Earth. To save time
and money for travelling many times, we will estimate the process and how many more
materials will be needed before sending them.
4. We need to ensure that the process of constructing domes is completed before digging
down for water since water will be evaporated if it exposes to the thin atmosphere of
Mars. However, according to BBC news, it is stated that researchers have found liquid
water about 20 kilometers across under Mars’ south polar ice caps.
5. The house will be made using aluminium and metal inside the dome. It will be made in a
rectangle shape similar to a container. These structures will be built using ‘Pioneer’
robot.
6. After getting some basic needs which are water, shelter and air, astronauts and volunteers
will be sent to Mars to experience their lives there.
7. During the experimental settlement, astronauts will be doing research, searching for ways
people can live comfortably on Mars. Perchlorate removal and cultivation experiment
will be carried out in order to test whether the proposed solution succeed or not in order
to make Mars as suitable for human as possible.
8. The water will be stocked in the water tank and through the vessels under the land, water
will run down to the domes for living and planting through piping system.
9. After 5 years, wind turbines and solar cells will be installed to generate electricity.
10. Later on when things get in place, other facilities and building will follow, and then we
will be able to create a colony of human living on Mars.
11. Later on, if people can live comfortably on Mars, place similar to helipad will be built so
that it will be easier for spaceship to land and takeoff.

Conclusion:
In conclusion, to settle a colony on Mars, we have to consider many factors and complete
many challenges. First of all, we decide to cope with the low magnetic field occured in Mars by
creating an artificial magnetic field. Second, a radiation resistant glass dome will be
implemented. Third, in order to be able to cultivate on Mars, the perchlorates in the martian soil
must be removed. This can be done by decomposing perchlorates into chlorine and oxygen gas.
Then, create an environment that is suitable for plant growth by installing an artificial light, and
regulate the temperature inside the radiation resistant glass dome to the optimal level for plant
growth. Different types of exploration robots will also be used to collect datas and samples, and
locate water bodies for usage. Then, due to the high percentage of carbon dioxide content in the
martian atmosphere, the carbon dioxide gas will be converted into usable oxygen gas. However,
oxygen tank will also be brought along during the first stage of inhabitant and also in case of
emergency. As for electricity, wind turbines and solar cells will be installed in order to generate
electricity. Regarding the synthesis of water, there are three methods suggested. First method is
to use the carbon dioxide in the martian atmosphere to react with hydrogen gas from Earth,
which will create methane and clean water as byproduct. The second method is to compress the
carbon dioxide and release it into the martian soil, which will result in the release of water that is
stored inside the martian soil. The third method is to heat up the martian soil, which will result in
the water being released as steam, which can then be compressed into desalinated water.

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