Layla van Ellen
Building on Mars: in-situ ice to respond to an extreme environment
Building a habitat on Mars requires the use of local resources to protect the research crew from the harsh Martian environment. As resources on Mars are scarce, a surprising material stands out as an interesting building compound: water. Building using in-situ ice adds architectural quality to the habitat, as daylight shines through the structure. The first Martians will experience day and night cycles similar to Earth (1 sol= 24h30) enhancing their comfort on this alien planet.
However, building with ice on Mars is an incredible challenge as ice must be reinforced with local materials. On top of that, the structure must be built autonomously from Earth. Therefore, I researched through various (extremely cold) experiments how ice can be improved as a building material as well as processed using robotic technology. This led to the design of the Ice Hab: two domes protecting the crew’s living and working environment.