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Martian Architecture

written by Alex Moore on July 25, 2000 | author profile | forum profile | contact me
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Martian architecture.
Martian architecture.
Credit: Unknown
Every corner of the world is as diverse in its architecture as in its location. Depending on where a city is located, it's may or may not prosper. This simple point can be expressed in the differences between ancient Rome and, say, Alaska for instance. The strength and power of the Roman Empire is seen in the awe-inspiring buildings found surrounding the Mediterranean. But in the frozen wasteland of the Arctic, below freezing temperatures produce mere igloos dotted around northern Canada. Location affects architecture which in turn affects the way of life for all who live there.

In the same way, the planet Mars will bring about very un-earthlike structures and will actually create a whole new form of architecture. Low gravity, low air-pressure, high UV radiation, sub-freezing temperatures, and lethal gases all contribute to a unique but dangerous building environment.

It is obvious that low gravity will enable larger structures to be built using less materials. This is important considering the difficulties in finding strong building materials. Domes will need less support along their base allowing for larger areas to be enclosed. This in turn will create large cities and a larger population at the fist stages of colonization.

To protect the settlers from high ultra-violet radiation, the first buildings must be built underground. Using the traditional Roman style of architecture, many columns support an overhead ceiling. Although this is an ancient form, it will serve well in the Martian colony. That extra support would otherwise not be necessary, but to utilize all possible space and building materials, the colony would be deep instead of wide.

The atmosphere on Mars is very low in pressure, around 1% of Earth's average. Until the atmosphere is thickened, humans will be hindered from walking on the surface in anything but a pressurized suit. Of course the CO2 rich air makes this necessary anyway, but later years may allow for simple face masks with heavy clothes. This is a major setback in construction of course. Working in pressurized space suits is slow and dangerous. And buildings will have to be air-tight and sealed from the outside. This type of construction is similar to that in commercial jets and spacecraft, and is feasible even today.

The below freezing temperatures on Mars will have little affect on buildings themselves. It is the settlers that will be affected. Temperatures in some places are in fact not that much lower than northern Siberia or the Antarctic. Simple insulation will solve that problem.

In short, building on Mars will not be extremely difficult. Using old techniques on a new frontier, mankind will be able to expand and build on Martian soil.

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