Marsville Air Supply System Student Page

Marsville Air Supply System
Student Page
The surface of Mars is a barren, lifeless desert which contains very little
oxygen, water or life as we know it. The polar caps consist mainly of carbon
dioxide (dry ice) with small amounts of frozen water (ice). This atmosphere
has a low pressure and is mostly carbon dioxide. It isn't suitable for
humans since we cannot breathe air that contains so little oxygen.
In order to maintain the Marsville settlement, you need to develop systems
that will allow humans to breathe air that is rich in oxygen. Marsville
workers will also have to travel outside the buildings to carry out research
on the planet so you may want to create portable systems as well to
support exploration outside of the habitat. The atmosphere inside the
habitat must be almost totally self-sufficient. Any failure of the atmospheric
control system would endanger the lives of the Marsville settlers. Your
design must allow for production and storage of an air supply, system
monitoring, atmospheric filtering and emergency backup.
1. What type of atmosphere do humans need in order to live? How is
this obtained on Earth?
2. What is photosynthesis? How could it be used?
3. What forms of energy could be used to re-circulate the air supply?
4. What other teams systems should be consulted regarding air supply?
5. What backup systems should be considered in case of power failure?
6. What considerations should be made for workers who must leave the
safety of the habitation?
7. How can you use the information from the Space Shuttle Discovery
missions in your design plans?
8. What materials can you use to make prototypes of your system that
would best replicate the materials to be used on Mars?
9. A process called electrolysis can separate water into hydrogen gas
and oxygen gas. Another process is being developed to extract
oxygen from rocks and soil that contain it. Can these processes be
used on Mars?
Construct a model of this system based on your design. It must include the
application of at least four facts from the “Mars ABC’s.” (For example, how will
Mars’ atmosphere or gravity affect the design of your system?) Maybe your
system will be very heavy but still portable by only a few Marsville workers
because of Mars’ gravity being only 38% of that of Earth’s.