Date: June 22, 2011
Title: A Research Station on Mars – The Boreas Project Part I
Podcaster: Robert Yule Elphick
Organization: The British Interplanetary Society
Description: The British Interplanetary Society recently sponsored a project called Boreas. Its objective was to design a research station to be placed on the north pole of Mars in 2037. The research station was conceived to operate for at least one Mars year – possibly longer with exchanged crews. It was designed to be run by a crew of up to ten members. The project was executed over several years and finally published in a report as a series of papers. This is part one of three podcasts which summarizes some of the results of the project.
Bio: Robert Yule Elphick was raised and educated in Britain, receiving degrees in Applied Physics and Geophysics & Planetary Physics. He has spent his life studying planets working mostly in the Oil and Gas industry but following exploration of other planets as well. He is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society where he became a member of the Boreas Project contributing to the Astronomy, Geophysics, Information Technology, and station design aspects of the project. He now lives on Whidbey Island in Washington, USA where he is retired and volunteers in various ways teaching technology and science.
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SCRIPT – Part 1
The British Interplanetary Society recently sponsored a project called Boreas. Its objective was to design a research station to be placed on the north pole of Mars in 2037. The research station was conceived to operate for at least one Mars year -possibly longer with exchanged crews. It was designed to be run by a crew of up to ten members. The project was executed over several years and finally published in a report as a series of papers.
Hello, my name is Robert Yule Elphick. I am a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society and was a member of the project Boreas team. These podcasts are based on the project study.
In this first of three episodes we will visit the research station. So, do up your seat belts and take a voyage of the imagination with me to the North Pole of Mars in 2037.
The research station consists of an arrangement of seven cylinders. One is in the center and six others arranged uniformly around it. Each cylinder is about 8 meters in diameter and has one living story. All the modules are mounted on wheels to enable them to be maneuvered to their final relative positions after they have landed. The modules were brought to Mars together during the last Hohmann transfer window.
They were then separated, and landed on Mars individually. They were then manipulated into position using remote control from Earth.
The cylinders had an initial diameter of about two meters during transit to Mars. They consisted of a core filled with essential equipment and supplies plus a collapsed inflatable outer layer that, once expanded, provide the living space around the core.
Once in position, each of the cylinders outer portions were inflated to a total diameter around eight meters. The cylindrical modules were then attached their neighbors by short tunnels, about two meters in length, with air tight doors at each end. The air tight doors allow any cylinder to be isolated in the event of problems.
The crew will arrive during the current Hohmann transfer window now that the station has been assembled and checked out.
Since the central module is right at the north pole, all the other modules are to the south so we will discuss them in terms of their orientation to a clock face. The first outer module is at the 12 oʼclock position from the central module, the second at the 2 oʼclock position, the third at the 4 oʼclock position, the fourth at the 6 oʼclock position, the fifth at the 8 oʼclock position, and the sixth at the 10 oʼclock position.
The central module, like all but one of the other modules, is about 50 square meters in total area. This one is a Garden area planted with trees, shrubs and other vegetation. Hydroponics and artificial lights are used to grow ʻcropsʼ and also turn cycle carbon dioxide into oxygen. Many of the products of this module will add to the diets of the crew. One of the advantages to having this as the central module is that the crew will often have excuses to pass through it and experience some green while going somewhere else.
Let us now go to the module at 12 oʼclock through the short airlock corridor. . . Here we are in the first of two modules designed to provide sleeping quarters and life support.
The central core contains three pie shaped segments with a washroom/shower in one. A lavatory in the second. And a life support unit in the third. The outer inflated section is divided into six units. Five sound proofed rooms containing a bed, workspace, computer terminal, storage compartments and a window to the outside. The sixth unit contains an emergency airlock to the outside. From this module there is a second airlock connection to the Module at the 2 oʼclock position. Let us walk through it. . . .
This module contains the galley, recreation area, and communications. The central core contains a plant and storage space. The outer inflated portion has three major segments, one for cooking and eating; one for recreation and gaming; and the final one has a communications cabin and a multi environment chamber. The galley area and the recreation area both have furniture designed to be used in many different arrangements dependent on the activities of the moment. Now let us traverse the next set of airlocks to the 4 oʼclock module.
Here we are in the second of the two modules designed to be sleeping quarters and life support. The central core again contains three segments of the cylinder with a washroom/shower in one. A lavatory in the second. And a life support unit in the third.
The inflated outer section is divided into six units. Four rooms with bed, workspace, computer terminal, storage compartments and a window to the outside. The fifth unit contains storage space. The sixth unit contains an emergency airlock to the outside.
Continuing our journey through the airlocks to the 6 oʼclock Module…
We are now in the first Science Module, here are facilities for Mars sample research, human monitoring, and exercise. The central core has storage space. The inflated outer part is divided into two equal segments. One contains a variety of exercise equipment, the other contains a human biology laboratory and a Mars science laboratory. The Mars science laboratory, includes a small airlock transfer dock for bringing samples in from the outside. The Laboratory spaces will include sample analysis equipment such as optical microscopes, an electron microscope, spectrometers from IR to UV, X-ray analysis, and isotope measurements.
As we move on to the 8 oʼclock module we find the second science module. . . This module is also divided into two. The half nearer the 6 oʼclock module contains additional science laboratory space with a second sample transfer dock, and a medical suite complete with examination table. The other half contains the EVA, Rover Dock, and sample return facilities. These will be described in more detail in the next podcast.
The final module at the 10 oʼclock position can only be reached by the air- locked connecting passage from the central module. There are no connections to neighboring modules. This is the consumables cache. It has no inflatable section, only a core with about 20 Square meters of area.
The modules are each decorated on the inside with an Earthly theme. One is evergreen forest, one a Metropolis, one the prairies, one rainforest, one mountains, and one the sea.
The station is designed to recycle resources as much as possible. Also to take advantage of local resources, especially water and carbon dioxide from the ice and atmosphere. These will be used to generate oxygen and fuel for the return to Earth as well as for drinking water and breathable atmosphere.
The Report of Project Boreas, composed of a number of papers, is one hundred and ninety two pages. It can be purchased by going to the British Interplanetary Society website at B I S dash S P A C E F L I G H T. Any search engine will find it. Look in the book section.
Thanks for listening. See you on Mars!
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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