The Mars One project was given a lot of grief several months ago when an MIT student team found several flaws in their preliminary outline for life support for the people living in a habitat on the surface of the Red Planet. (See Mars One (and done?) – MIT News.) Mars One, however, had contracted a study on life support by Paragon Space Development Corporation. Paragon is a leader in the field of environmental control and life support systems (ECLSS) and has been involved in many projects for NASA, Boeing, and others.
Below is a statement from Mars One on the results of Paragon’s assessment of the feasibility of a sustainable habitat on Mars. The general conclusion is that it is feasible to sustain a crew on the planet. The results of the study are available in this document: Mars One Habitat ECLSS Conceptual Design Assessment (pdf).
Mars One will also participate in a debate with the MIT team at the upcoming Mars Society Conference in D.C. in August: Mars One to Debate MIT Critics at Mars Society Convention – The Mars Society.
Amersfoort, 1st July 2015 – Mars One is pleased to present the initial conceptual design of the Surface Habitat Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) performed by Paragon Space Development Corporation®. The ECLSS is one of the key systems required to support a human settlement on Mars and will create a safe environment for the future Mars inhabitants, supplying them with clean air and water while recycling wastes.
“Paragon was provided the opportunity to conduct a completely independent study on the feasibility of a system that would support life on Mars and that study led us to believe that it is an attainable goal.” said Grant Anderson, President and CEO of Paragon. “If the will and the means are provided, we will see humans begin to explore and even colonize other planets in our lifetime.”
Mars One contracted Paragon due to their specialization in engineering and manufacturing thermal control and life support systems with a specific focus on extreme environments.
“An ECLSS design for a permanent human settlement on Mars has never been implemented and will need to consider the unique challenges of an extreme Martian environment.” said Arno Wielders, Mars One’s Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder. “Paragon is very experienced with both Space and extreme Earth conditions. They have an established reputation as an ‘honest broker’ and an impressive track record of developing innovative yet practical life support and thermal control solutions for spaceflight and terrestrial applications, which makes them a good match.”
The ECLSS Functions
The ECLSS will primarily provide water and a healthy and comfortable atmosphere within the habitat. Since shipping resources from Earth to Mars is a costly endeavour, all breathable air and the water for the habitat will be produced using local Martian resources, otherwise known as in-situ resource utilization or ISRU. This process is vital to the long term goal of self-sufficiency for humans on Mars. The functions of the ECLSS are distributed across its five primary systems, which are described below:
- The Atmosphere Management System (AMS) controls carbon dioxide and other trace contaminants, produces oxygen via the electrolysis of waters, detects fires, controls the pressures of different atmospheric gases, controls the air temperature, and monitors overall air quality;
- The in-situ Resource Processing System (ISRPS) provides two main functions, namely water recovery from Martian regolith (soil) and nitrogen/argon production from the Martian atmosphere;
- The Wet Waste Processing System (WWPS) isolates human generated wet waste (such as urine) and extracts purified (but non-drinkable) water that is subsequently processed by the WMS for use by the crew;
- The Water Management System (WMS) collects non-drinkable water from the ISRPS, WWPS, and excess humidity in the habitat atmosphere and purifies it to produce clean water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene;
- The Thermal Control System (TCS) balances the heat generated by the crew and electrical devices with losses to the surroundings while maintaining the crew and the equipment within an acceptable temperature range.
“Paragon has been in business for more than two decades developing life support solutions for extreme environments and Mars is the ultimate destination for us.” said Barry Finger, Paragon Chief Engineer and Director of Life Support Systems. “The challenges to humans surviving and thriving on Mars are significant and not to be taken lightly, but we are convinced that the goal is achievable with the tools and technologies that exist today.”
Mars One’s ECLSS has been designed with specific focus on simplicity, redundancy, reliability, and maintainability. The conceptual design has identified an architecture with local resources supplying most of the consumable needs of the Mars One outpost. The full report is available here: Mars One Habitat ECLSS (ECLSS) Conceptual Design Assessment.
About Mars One: Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today. Mars One’s mission plan integrates core technologies that are readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire this generation and generations to come. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.
For more information about Mars One, please visit www.mars-one.com
About Paragon Space Development Corporation®: Paragon is a premier provider of environmental controls for extreme and hazardous environments. They design, build, test and operate life support and thermal control products and systems for astronauts, contaminated water divers, and extreme environment adventurers, as well as for unmanned space and terrestrial applications.
For more information about Paragon, please visit www.paragonsdc.com