The Valles Marineris
This Martian base, named for the canyon it would be ideally located in, could support life sustainably. Placed in the canyon to provide shelter from dust storms, the base would feature pressurized buildings made of a tempered glass ready to withstand the cold temperatures and incorporating both sealant technologies to repel dust and organic solar cells small enough to be integrated into the glass to produce electricity. This glass would also keep out radiation, while letting in helpful rays for plant growth. To provide oxygen to Martians, dry ice would be collected from the frozen pole and shipped via a fast and energy efficient maglev train. Most of Mars’ lower atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, which can freeze in the low temperatures. Using fractional distillation techniques, oxygen can be separated from carbon dioxide. These techniques are currently used to produce oxygen for scuba diving and other oxygen-free activities. The winds on Mars, stronger than those on Earth, would put up greater wind resistance, reducing the efficiency of trains. A near vacuum maglev train would reduce the energy waste by providing friction-free and wind resistance-free transportation. Such trains could also be used as public transportation. To help remove carbon dioxide from buildings and reintroduce more oxygen, plants would be placed throughout all structures. To produce food, a hydroponic farm would be used to avoid the toxic Martian soil containing high levels of perchlorate. Needing only water (roughly 90% less than traditional farming), condensed nutrients, and clay pellets to provide integrity for plant roots, hydroponic systems are far more efficient than soil farms, which lose precious water and nutrients in run-off. Additionally, hydroponic systems can be designed to recycle water and nutrients not used by a plant. This kind of conservation would be necessary to sustain a community 65 million miles away from Earth. I have designed and 3D-printed a basic prototype of such a system that has proved functional; the Modular Hydroponic System. Around the community, root-like structures could be implanted to reduce erosion and dust storms within the canyon. Alternatively, rocks could be laid down to reduce the surface area of loose dirt. A building dedicated to muscle and bone preservation through exercise would take advantage of the daily exertion of Martians by converting their work into usable electricity. Besides this source and the organic solar cells in the glass, wind turbines would be scattered across the flat lands above the canyon, which are often exposed to high winds. This interconnected community would thrive on utilizing and recycling all resources as cleanly as possible, all with the red planet, Mars, in mind.
Link to my hydroponics system on Maker Bot Thingiverse