Interested in settling on Mars? Turns out you might find yourself in a pseudo-redwood forest. Excerpt:
Like other contests before it, the Mars City Design competition aims to solve the problem of building livable and sustainable spaces on the Red Planet, from either the limited cargo astronauts would be able to bring with them or indigenous Martian resources. [How Will a Human Mars Base Work? NASA’s Vision in Images]
MIT’s winning design, which the team calls Redwood Forest, is a collection of “tree habitats” connected through a system of tunnels called “roots.” The roots would provide safe access to other tree habitats, private spaces and “shirt-sleeve transportation,” according to a statement from MIT. The tunnels would also provide protection from cosmic radiation, micrometeorite impacts and extreme changes in temperature.
Each dome-shaped tree habitat would house up to 50 people, and the team’s vision calls for building about 200 of them, to support a settlement of 10,000 pioneers. The structures would include private and public spaces as well as plants and water harvested from the northern plains of Mars, according to the statement.
“On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life,” MIT postdoctoral researcher Valentina Sumini said in the statement. Sumini and MIT assistant professor Caitlin Mueller led the team, which also included nine students.
“Designing a forest also symbolizes the potential for outward growth as nature spreads across the Martian landscape,” Sumini added.
Here’s a word that doesn’t appear in the article: Terraforming.
Any effort to stay in a place like Mars will result in terraforming, whether we would or not; that being the case, why not make a deliberate effort? Why not set up a buttload of these domes and leave some uninhabited, so that their free oxygen can be slowly released, building up the Martian atmosphere?
There’s one thing about Mars, though, that we can’t terraform, and that’s the gravity. Mars’ surface gravity is about .34G; a tad over a third of Earth’s gravity. Stay on Mars very long and you won’t be able to go home. Have a child on Mars, and they will grow up looking pretty odd by Earth standards; long bones will grow longer, digits too; a born Martian would be tall, gangly, with long fingers and toes, having grown up at about a third of Earth’s unvarying one gee.
Knowing that – one wonders, how tall would these hypothetical redwoods grow?