Mars One, which has faced broad skepticism over its goal of colonizing Mars by 2027, has addressed at least one part of its galactic challenge: how to create a habitable environment for humans there.
The Netherlands-based nonprofit released a report it commissioned from by Paragon Space Development Corp., that says Mars One’s Surface Habitat Environmental Control and Life Support Systems would indeed supply the needed clean air and water and waste-recycling necessary to support a Mars colony.
“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.”
Tucson, Ariz.-based Paragon specializes in thermal-control and life-support systems for 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 report discusses five primary life-support systems in the Mars One habitat plan:
- The Atmosphere Management System 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” provides water recovery from Martian soil and nitrogen/argon production from the Martian atmosphere.
- The Wet Waste Processing System isolates human generated wet waste and extracts purified subsequently processed for use by the crew.
- The Water Management System collects non-drinkable water and excess humidity in the habitat atmosphere and purifies it to produce clean water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene.
- The Thermal Control System 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.”
The commissioned report notably did not address at least two other project challenges: how to get to Mars and raising the billions of dollars needed to fund the mission.