University of Tartu sends the Self-Deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments on its way
Today, the researchers of the UT Institute of Technology will send the unique “Mars house”, the Self-Deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (SHEE), off to France, where the structure will be added the life support systems and interior furnishings. After partners’ joint efforts, the habitat that has been dubbed after the complicated living conditions on Mars will be ready for use in a few months.
In the international “Mars house” project the planning of which started at the beginning of 2013, Estonians had a very important role: manufacturing the technology of the self‑deployable habitat. “This is one of the most complicated parts of constructing the habitat. We were responsible for designing the robotics and energy systems and constructing the structure of the habitat. So by now we have created the necessary robotics – actuators that allow the habitat to fold and unfold itself – as well as the energy and thermal systems of the habitat,“ said Priit Kull, manager of the SHEE project at the UT Institute of Technology.
Today, 100 months worth of working hours later, the researchers of the University of Tartu have completed their part of the project and the habitat is able to fold and unfold itself in a few minutes, so it is sent off to Marseilles, France, where the French partners will outfit the habitat with internal furnishings and life support systems. After that, the testing of the prototype will start.
When folded, the habitat is a box six metres long and 2.4 metres wide, weighs 6000 kg and fits on the trailer of a truck. “This is how we will transport it. Transporting must be as compact as possible. We have also kept in mind that two habitats should fit next to each other in a payload shroud of near future heavy lift launchers,” added Kull.
According to the typical mission scenario, the habitat can house two people for at least two weeks. SHEE has all functional areas required for living, making the structure similar to a normal dwelling: an area for sleeping, a kitchen, a bathroom, a toilet and work areas. “On plan, we have also modelled a lab module and a greenhouse module. Everything depends on the function of the habitat,” added Kull.
The prototype of the habitat manufactured in Tartu will actually never reach the space. “However, it is a great step towards making it possible to send such a folded habitat to Mars in the future and to be able to live in such a habitat on a neighbouring planet,” said Professor of the Technology of Polymeric Materials Alvo Aabloo, shedding light on the future perspectives of the habitat the manufacturing of which he has been responsible for.
In the framework of the international SHEE project, the objective of the researchers of the Institute of Technology of the University of Tartu is to develop and manufacture the self‑deployable extra-terrestrial habitat technology test bed for testing the habitat on Earth. Another well-suited applications of the so-called “Mars house” on Earth are in disaster zones or for scientists operating in extreme environments.
The manufacturing of the habitat cost the Institute of Technology more than half a million euros and was funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research.
In addition to researchers from the University of Tartu, experts from four other countries – France, Austria, Belgium and the Czech Republic – participate in the project. In total, the consortium includes seven partner institutions.
For more information on the project, see www.shee.eu.
Additional information: Priit Kull, Project Manager of SHEE at the UT Institute of Technology, tel: +372 524 2138, email: priit.kull [ät] ut.ee;
Alvo Aabloo, responsible for the manufacture of the self-deployable habitat technology, UT Professor of the Technology of Polymeric Materials, tel: +372 507 8356, email: alvo.aabloo [ät] ut.ee.