Hive Mars: A project of a human settlement on Mars

The Italian project is developed by Team ArchiMars, students at PoliBa

What is the starting point for the realization of a human settlement on Mars?

Before defining how, when, where and if this can happen, it is necessary to define the requirements of a mission, i.e. the standard parameters concerning the type of mission, robotic or human, its destination, its duration, and its degree of complexity related to the number of spacecraft and crew members, to be considered for each area concerned, starting from environmental factors up to design.

Once the mission requirements are defined, five fundamental points are established that help to define the mission project in greater detail: the vision, which defines an overall image of what you want to achieve, the mission, which gives information on the type and on the duration of the mission, the main mission goals with their respective objectives, which are used to reach the goals. The FoM (Figures of Merit), on the other hand, is used to assess the risks and feasibility of the entire mission. This preliminary part of the study is used to elaborate the final diagram of the mission, a drawing that describes all the phases that arrange the mission.

Our team, Archimars, has articulated the long-term human mission architecture in two main phases, following a precursor phase of robotic exploration. The first phase in July 2030, the departure of the first launched spacecraft the Big Falcon Rocket which will be used for the transport of all surface assets, useful for the preparation of the site before the arrival of a man. The second phase in September 2035, launch of the SLS Block 1B spacecraft, which will take the first crew of eight people to Mars, whose stay will last at least 680 sol (two Earth years).

Where is the mission?

The mission must define a landing site. The site chosen for our Hive Mars project is Hellas Planitia, the largest basin on the red planet, located in the southern hemisphere of Mars. The site has all the necessary props suitable for the development of human life, such as depth, which allows having a more moderate percentage of radiation than the other areas on the surface and, more importantly, the presence of water attested by the ‘honeycomb terrain’, a geological feature whose process is linked to the principle of ice ascent.

The project

takes the name of HIVE MARS to resume the physical characteristic of the honeycomb terrain of the chosen site and define its principle of expansion.

The settlement

follows a linear development characterized by the main road axis that connects the two landing areas to the habitat and overlooked by the ISRU production area and the energy production area.

The habitat

the fulcrum of human life, consists of a hangar which is a protection for pressurized rover and three housing modules. Each of these modules is of the hybrid type, which consists of an external “class 2” casing and an inflatable “class 3” internal module.

The design

of the external structure, whose outer surface frame is reminiscent of Martian sand dunes, is a self-supporting dome with an ogival section, truncated at the top to allow the insertion of the closed internal housing module from above.

The latter

is characterized by an internal steel structure that can be deployed and an external inflatable structure in the shape of an egg. Once it is mechanically opened, it’s divided into three levels, of decreasing walkable area, accessible and connected vertically by a harmonious helical staircase placed in the center, inside the core.

The function

of illuminating the internal environment is instead performed by a circular skylight mounted at the top. Thanks to a system of automated shutters, this skylight, opens during certain hours of the day to radiate the internal module from above. The light, therefore, filters from above through the skylight, illuminates the second floor, and partially reaches the lower levels from the gap between the inflatable fabric envelope and the actual internal structure.

Read more: 5 reasons to colonize Mars!

Each level fulfills specific functions

Each level has three windows arranged on axes of one hundred and twenty degrees, which do not so much perform the function of illuminating the interior with natural light, but rather that of offering a man a view towards the outside, partly freeing him from the sense of closure and isolation. The function of illuminating the interior of the habitat with natural light, on the other hand, is carried out by a circular skylight placed at the upper end placed as a seal of the external dome, illuminating almost entirely the last level and partially the lower levels through the gap between the floors and the inflatable structure. In general, the housing module lives mainly on an artificial lighting system applied on the pillars of the first two levels and on the skylight structure of the last level.

First of all, the ground floor identifies a common area of 70 square meters, where there is a medical area, a scientific research area, and a control area, whose internal layout and distribution derive from the presence of 3 airlocks which permit to connect with the other housing modules of the settlement, arranged on axes of 120° alternating with the axes on which the windows are arranged instead.

The first floor, on the other hand, identifies a private area of 60 square meters, which is characterized by a distribution corridor around the core leading to common areas, the living room to the northeast and dining room to the southwest, and to the more private areas the bedrooms of the crew members, east and west.

The second and last floors identify an area of 45 square meters, smaller than the others due to its position on the maximum narrowing of the egg-shaped shell. This character has prompted us to free this floor of any clutter, making it a single open space where it is possible to carry out activities related to sport, reading, and leisure.

Internal view of the living room
Internal view of the relaxing area
Interior view of the researching area

Starting from the seriality of the first human settlement of Hive Mars, our team has hypothesized an expansive principle inspired by the territorial confirmation of a hexagonal honeycomb, repeatable indefinitely, capable of tessellating space and connecting all housing units.

It is hoped that in 2066, starting with the first and smallest human settlement, a Martian colony will be reached whose configuration in hexagons is reminiscent of the shape of a hive, a place of life on Mars, and a testament to interpersonal planetary success.

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