Is There Life On Mars?
There could be if you accept the latest challenge from the UAE Space Agency. The Agency needs your help to design a habitat for two brave astronauts to live in while they are on Mars.
Anyone can enter as long as they are resident in the UAE.
The Design Brief

Shelter is considered to be one of the basic necessities of life here on Earth, but the harsh environment on Mars would quickly kill any human being facing the conditions without a habitat.

Your habitat will need to accommodate two astronauts, so we recommend you allow approximately 500 square ft of living space. The use of this space must be optimized for the comfort and use of our two resident astronauts. Consideration should be given to life sustaining needs, research tasks, and recreational activities.

Your Martian habitat has to be built with materials that can either be imported from Earth or found on Mars. Perhaps the space vehicle that takes the astronauts to Mars could be repurposed or maybe you could use some Martian rocks. Otherwise you are free to let your imagination run wild.

Research the key to success

We have included some basic information about the harsh Martian environment but you will need to do more research to inform the design of your Habitat.

  • How will you provide an atmosphere the astronauts can breathe?
  • What will they eat and drink and how will it be prepared?
  • How will they counteract the effects of low gravity on their health and well-being?
  • How will they heat the habitat and generate power?
  • How will they dispose of waste and rubbish?
Once you can answer these questions you will be ready to start your design.

What your presentation should cover

Your entry should comprise of a detailed drawing together with measurements and notes and a description of the materials and likely construction methods. Your ideas and proposals should be backed up by the research you have undertaken.

A panel of eminent judges will select a lucky winner who will receive AED 50,000 and their design will be built as a full-scale mock up as part of Think Science in March 2016. Anyone can enter regardless of age or technical ability. The judges are looking for creative and imaginative ideas rather than professional drawings.

The closing date for entries will be 1st March 2016.
The Martian Environment
Seasons on Mars

Like Earth, Mars has four seasons because the planet tilts on its axis. The seasons vary in length because of Mars’ eccentric orbit around the sun. In the northern hemisphere, spring is the longest season at seven months. Summer and fall are both about six months long. Winter is only four months long.

During a Martian summer, the polar ice cap, composed mainly of carbon dioxide ice, shrinks and may disappear altogether. When winter comes, the ice cap grows back. There may be some liquid water trapped beneath these carbon dioxide ice sheets.

Possibility of life

Mars could have once sustained life. Some scientists think that life might still exist there today. A number of researchers have even speculated that life on Earth might have seeded Mars, or that life on Mars seeded Earth.

Oceans may have covered the surface of Mars in the past, providing an environment for life to develop. Although the red planet is a cold desert today, researchers suggest that liquid water may be present underground, providing a potential refuge for any life that might still exist there. Several studies have shown that there is abundant water ice beneath the surface.

How to enter

Make a scan of your design and attach any notes or descriptions and click on the upload button and follow the instructions on your screen.

Good luck, we can’t wait to see your designs.