Copyright © 2005 by S. Andrew Ning. Published by The Mars Society with permission
CREATION OF AN INTERMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT AND UTILIZING SWITCHABLE MICROWAVE
ABSORBENT MATERIAL TO AID IN PERFORMING WORK ON MARS
S. Andrew Ning
Brigham Young University
Building and operating machinery will be essential in Martian exploration. For astronauts to leave the spaceship environment to do work, these three human needs must be met: sufficient counter pressure, oxygen to breathe, and warmth. The use of an intermediate environment can solve the pressure requirement effectively. An intermediate environment pressurized with Martian air would provide sufficient external pressure, allowing the use of a thinner, light-weight suit. The astronauts would need oxygen or mixed gas masks, but would not need their bulky outside suits to provide counter pressure. With external pressure supplied, the bulkiness of the suits can be minimized, thus improving mobility, dexterity, visibility and astronaut energy efficiency. An intermediate environment also has additional benefits in minimizing flammability concerns, minimizing decompression sickness, and saving cost on resources.
To address the heating requirement we investigate the use of electrochromic material that is switchable in the microwave region. This will allow the suits to be kept thin and will allow control on the amount of heat reaching the astronauts.