You may already know that people plan this all the time settle on Mars sometime in the near future. When and how that will happen is unclear, but scientists at the University of Birmingham believe some of the answers may lie beneath our feet.
Researchers set up a laboratory 1.1km underground in Britain’s deepest mine to study how scientific and medical operations would work in the demanding environments of Mars and the Moon.
The laboratory is located on an area of 3,000 m²3 network of tunnels next to that Boulby underground laboratorya deep underground research facility in Yorkshire that focuses on particle physics, earth science and astrobiology research.
The lab is the first of many underground facilities as part of Bio-SPHERE, a project that will study how humans might work – and stay healthy – during long space missions on other planets. The laboratory consists of a 3 m wide module and will specifically test and simulate biomedical processes.
“This project will help gather information that may provide clues to life support systems, devices and biomaterials that could be used in medical emergencies and for tissue repair after space mission damage,” said Dr. Alexandra Iordachescu, who leads the project learn.
The project also aims to replicate the operating conditions that humans would face when working in similar caves on the Moon and Mars, including the remoteness, limited access to new materials and the challenges of transporting heavy equipment.
According to the researchers, building underground caverns could be a viable way to overcome the many dangers posed by life on the surface of other planets, such as space radiation and falling debris from meteorites.
“Bio-SPHERE promises to help answer some of the important logistical questions involved in creating sustainable living conditions in remote, subterranean environments and will thereby contribute significantly to the essential preparations for our long, difficult and exciting journey together that lies ahead.” [to other planets]said Professor Sean Paling of the Boulby Underground Laboratory.
Outside of research, public space agencies such as ESA and NASA have already made pledges to develop permanent settlements on Marsas well as from private organizations SpaceX, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.