Over the years, people have wondered whether humans could live on Mars one day. Interstellar Lab is attempting to find out the answer—by “developing technologies dedicated to space exploration to apply them on Earth,” as founder and CEO Barbara Belvisi puts it.
Although the Ebios project aspires to research how people could reside on another planet, the Paris-based startup also aims to learn more about how humans may need to adapt to climate change—and the limits that such extreme living conditions may impose on Earth.
“How can we say that we are going to live on Mars when we are unable to live properly on Earth?” she asked in an interview with Usbek & Rica. “The mess is a concept invented by man; we must not reproduce it, either here or on Mars.”
Through the Experimental Bioregenerative Station, or EBios, the Paris-based startup is building a series of biomes to create resilient, self-sufficient “closed-loop villages with regenerative life support technologies,” as reported by Venture Beat.
Food production will occur in a 2,000 m2 glass dome, and waste will be sorted and recycled within the habitat. The plants in the biomes may eventually produce all the oxygen needed to function in the residential complex. Once fully constructed, a village will be able to accommodate 100 people.
The biomes will be construed in the Mojave Desert, the driest desert in North America. Belvisi has found four suitable sites in the desert and is aiming to acquire property by February 2020, with the goal to start constructing the first EBios village in 2021. As she has been discussing the project with NASA, she is considering building the second EBios near the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“A long-term, sustainable Mars or lunar settlement will only be practical if we do the research for it on Earth and really test the viability of different systems,” said Greg Autry, director of the Southern California Commercial Spaceflight Initiative and former White House liaison to NASA, in a statement.
These facilities will function both as research centres and as areas for the general public. For half the year, researchers will be used the habitats to investigate sustainable living and other matters. Interstellar Lab is collaborating with global institutes and universities in environmental science, agriculture, biochemistry, biophysics, geophysics, planetary sciences, anthropology and psychology. Astronauts will also use EBios as a training facility.
However, for the other half of the year, Belvisi wants to turn EBios into a tourist destination and science centre open to the general public. The habitats will be open to tourists who want to experience the extreme sustainability lifestyle.
The project will go through three phrases of autonomy before it’s ready to reach Mars. Phase 1, an autonomy rate of 75 percent, appears to be possible with current technological advances, said Belvisi.
“All technologies and equipment already exist to design this self-sufficient habitat,” she said. “Notably, water treatment systems with activated carbon filters or ultraviolet disinfection systems.”
For phase 2, an 85 percent rate will be the goal. Once the EBios facilities are able to reach a 95 percent autonomy rate on Earth, in phase 3, the company hopes to build them on Mars. However, this phase will requite the develop of new advances, such as ways to pollinate plants without bees.