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Reconnaissance on Mars. Creation of a Mars Hangar. S. Andrew Ning, Krystle Farnsworth, Robert Lawton, Brian Riddle, David Allred. Mars Exploration. Assemble and repair machinery: airplanes, ATVs, rovers. Imagine doing that work in a Full Pressure Suit. Creation of an Intermediate Environment.

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Reconnaissance on mars

Reconnaissance on Mars

Creation of a Mars Hangar

S. Andrew Ning, Krystle Farnsworth, Robert Lawton, Brian Riddle, David Allred

Mars exploration
Mars Exploration

  • Assemble and repair machinery: airplanes, ATVs, rovers

  • Imagine doing that work in a Full Pressure Suit

Creation of an intermediate environment
Creation of an Intermediate Environment

  • Allows design of a suit with greater mobility, dexterity, and visibility

Mars Homestead Project @ M.I.T.

Reconnaissance on mars

95% CO2, 2.7% N2, 1.8% Ar, .13% O2, .07% CO

Surface pressure is approximate 6-7 millibars

Average Temperature = -55°C

78% N2, 21%O2, .9% Ar, .03% CO2

Surface pressure is about 1.01 bar

Average Surface Temperature = 15°C

Biological concerns
Biological Concerns

  • Mars has insufficient oxygen (Gas Composition)

  • Mars has insufficient vapor pressure (Pressure Regulation)

  • Mars is too cold (Temperature Regulation)

Solution space suits
Solution: Space Suits

  • Full Pressure Suits (FPS) used in past NASA explorations protect against thin atmospheres, low pressures and cold temperatures

  • Downside: The large pressure differential created makes movement awkward and large helmets limit visibility

Ideal pressure
Ideal Pressure

  • Lower pressure differential decreases fatigue and increases productivity. Especially gloved hand fatigue.

  • Too low of pressure presents risk of hypoxia. Need to maintain sufficient partial pressure of oxygen in lung alveoli.

  • Too high of pressure presents risk of oxygen toxicity.

Mixed gas composition
Mixed Gas Composition

One approach to avoid oxygen toxicity and flammability hazards is to use a mixed gas suit


  • More expensive to continually monitor both oxygen and nitrogen partial pressure

  • Adds weight and volume

  • Increases risk for decompression sickness

Other problems
Other Problems

  • How do we do heavy duty work? These Full Pressure Suits (FPS) lack dexterity, mobility, visibility, and are high in energy cost.

  • Longevity. FPS take a long time to take on and off. Also need to consider repeated decompression.

Our solution build a mars hangar
Our Solution: Build a “Mars Hangar”

  • An intermediate environment can be used to provide external pressure- Compress existing Mars air to >0.5 Bar

Sprung Instant Structures

Intermediate environment suit
Intermediate Environment Suit

  • Used as a supplemental suit

  • Not gas-tight suit (thin like a flight suit)

  • Oxygen Face Mask

  • Microwave absorbent material

Benefits of a mars hangar
Benefits of a “Mars Hangar”

  • We can increase the pressure while using a thinner suit, so motion is much less restricted

  • With a higher pressure we can use mixed gases

  • Can decrease or eliminate decompression time

  • Taking suit on and off is much more time efficient

  • Allow us to use local resources to supply and exhaust air – saves on costs

  • Increased mobility makes it much easier to assemble and repair airplanes, ATVs and rovers

Decompress in mars hangar
Decompress in “Mars Hangar”

  • Pre-breathe 100% Oxygen

  • Inert Environment

  • Can still do productive work

Temperature regulation
Temperature Regulation

  • Long range heating by directed microwaves – minimize bulkiness of suit

  • Deliver the heat energy directly rather than heating empty space, a plus for energy poor environments like Mars

  • Can be more efficiently reflected than infrared

  • Easier to produce and direct than infrared

Electrochromic materials
Electrochromic Materials

  • Transport hydrogen ions from a storage area through a conducting layer into electrochromic material

  • By applying a voltage we can reversibly change the window from a clear state to a darkened state

NREL of the DOE

Why didn t the microwaves switch
Why didn’t the microwaves switch?

  • We used an electrochromic mirror that uses two electrically conductive transparent coatings

  • The microwaves didn’t even reach the electrochromic material

Where do we go from here
Where do we go from here?

  • Needs a smaller plasma frequency than conventional materials (lower conductivity)

  • Make our own electrochromic material using Tungsten-Bronze, Ruthenium-Oxide, or Vanadium-Oxide

  • Use a microwave mirror with co-planar switchable links

  • Use of materials that rotate polarization (we can use polarized microwaves to switch from absorbing to reflecting)


  • Building and operating machinery will be essential in Martian exploration.

  • Intermediate environments will be very useful and can be developed by:

    • Building a Mars air pressurized hangar

    • Developing a thin, flexible, low weight, intermediate environment suit

    • Using directed heating by microwaves

  • Thus, we can provide sufficient pressure, oxygen and temperature while dramatically decreasing the bulkiness of the space suit. This will increase mobility, dexterity and visibility.

  • Things will get done!