The presence of accessible ice on the Red Planet warms the heart of a collaborative group at the NASA Langley Engineering Design Studio in Hampton, Virginia — an expert team that is chipping away at designing a “Mars Ice Home.”
“Ice Home is more than just a habitat, since what we really need is a new home on Mars,” said Ice Home principal investigator Kevin Kempton, of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “Our team is confident Ice Home is currently the best solution out there for an early Mars outpost.”
The advantages of ice
Ice Home is a deployable Mars habitat concept based on an inflatable structure that makes use of water ice on the Red Planet. Ice Home could provide a large, flexible and cost-effective workspace that can be used for many of the key activities that are essential for the long-term success of a human outpost on Mars, Kempton said.
Much of the cost-effectiveness comes from the incorporation of Martian resources into the Ice Home, which means not as much material would need to be launched from Earth, he added.
An added biological bonus, according to Ice Home advocates, is that water ice serves as shielding from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which have been flagged as potentially dangerous to human health on long-duration Mars surface missions. An Ice Home could significantly reduce astronauts’ GCR dosages compared with habitats based on an aluminum structure, Kempton said.