SUMMER 2016 RESEARCH POSITION: SUPERVISOR: CHIRSTINA CIARDULLO; IN COLLABORATION WITH NICKIE CHEUNG, MARK DYEHOUSE

AURORA stemmed from a desire to rethink and possibly better articulate the themes from PROJECT VIRIDITAS. Working in a much smaller team, the project focuses again on the themes of developing an inflatable Martian habitat ecology that could theoretically be self sustaining. In particular however given less team members and a more rigid time constraint the project focused on systems integration into the habitats skin, as well as focusing attention to relate flows between three organisms; those being cabbage, a oyster mushroom compost, and algae. The purpose for this phase of conceptual design is intended to be a base onto which physical prototyping and scale mock-ups for material and systems testing could identify new, more verifiable solutions based on AURORA's preliminary design.

In essence AURORA celebrates a radially symmetrical geometry of inflated air-beam stalks, onto which the plant substrate is tensioned to from a deployable central column (reminiscent of PROJECT VIRIDITAS). At the forms base a decomposer basin filters out nutrient solution from the algae which reside in the central column, as well as plant material which is present inside the pressure volume of the habitat. Water lines run radially in line with the stalks, onto which they graft onto and gravity feed water down into water storage units near the habitats base. For lighting the habitat, side emitting fiber optic cables, fed with Martian sunlight from a solar collector on the habitats top flow along the parabolic caternaries formed by the stalk geometries. To add to this, strips of blue and red grow light LED's adorn the space between the stalks to provide the habitat a luminous vibrant glow. A main difference from previous iterations including VIRIT|DITAS, lies within the desire to make the habitat translucent. To allow for the habitat to emit light and receive it, but to retain resistance to impacts and heat loss, new aerogel pocketing as well as tougher ETFE abrasive resistant plastic membranes comprise the majority of the habitats exterior assembly.   

In terms of the habitats deployment on the Martian surface, the habitat is anticipated to be lowered via a skycrane deployment method. Once slightly embedded in the regolith, inflation and deployment components residing in a rigid base begin to spring the habitat upward. Once the habitat begins inflating to 2/3 Earth's atmospheric pressure, the tension members present in the plant armature spring upward and tie back to find equilibrium between the exterior skin and central column, thus allowing a gap for the plants leafy portion and roots to grow uninhibited. Exterior layers of ETFE and polyethylene fabrics maintain the high pressure differential while maintaining the formal characteristics of the stalk structure. 

AURORA visualized on Arabia Terra, Mars Northern Hemishpere

AURORA visualized on Arabia Terra, Mars Northern Hemishpere

FINALIZED HABITAT SKIN DETAIL ASSEMBLY: (Annotations to be uploaded shortly)

FINALIZED HABITAT SKIN DETAIL ASSEMBLY: (Annotations to be uploaded shortly)

ORTHOGRAPHIC SECTION AND PLAN

ORTHOGRAPHIC SECTION AND PLAN

Process Habitat Envelope Studies

Biotic and Systems Feedback Study Diagrams

Biotic and Systems Feedback Study Diagrams

Organism Timeline Overlap and Transfer: Process Study

Organism Timeline Overlap and Transfer: Process Study

SYSTEM INTEGRATION: AXONOMETRIC SERIES

Systems Flow Concept: Biotic, Water, Light and Air

Systems Flow Concept: Biotic, Water, Light and Air

FINAL SKIN DETAIL

FINAL SKIN DETAIL

Process Skin Details

Process Skin Details

Deployment Sequence

Deployment Sequence