An innovative project re-imagines origami to create “pop up” habitats on the moon and Mars. Through the use of shape-shifting meta-materials space architects can build a reflexive articulation of geometric plates that transform in response to light or heat.
The “MoonMars” project was born out of a collaboration between the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), ESA-ESTEC, research institutions and textile architect studio Samira Boon.
One of the greatest features of this concept is a compact, easily transportable design. Unlike other proposals sent to NASA as part of their Mars habitat contest – there are no bulky 3D printers that need relocating each time they finish a print. Instead perhaps you could use stationary 3D printers to extrude layers of meta-material for transport to sites of interest.
Furthermore the inflation and unfolding of meta-material architecture is entirely automated via robotics – certainly a growing trend in space colonization.
“Origami structures made of textiles can be unfolded into a myriad of different shapes. They are lightweight. They can be easily deployed and re-used in different configurations and sizes for flexible spatial usage. Structures remain functional in changing circumstances, thereby extending their useable life-span,” says Sitnikova, who leads the MoonMars project on behalf of the ILEWG.
The moon and Mars are hit by a lot of micrometeorites so it is important that architects take this in to consideration. Luckily the MoonMars habitat is well equipped to mitigate danger. Due to it’s angular surface micrometeorites are less likely to strike at a dangerous perpendicular angle – instead, impacting the habitat at an asymmetric “sliding” angle, which helps to dissipate the full brunt of impact.
These shape-shifting textiles can also host an array of solar panels that adjust in response to the Suns location. Using similar forms of optical sensitivity meta-materials can alter their transparency in order to complement climactic conditions for ideal internal lighting.
A demonstration of technology for space colonization will be held in June 2019 The project called “IGLUNA”, will include testing MoonMars inside of a glacier above Zermat, Switzerland. Later in september they will perform similiar demonstrations inside of an Icelandish lava tube.
“We’ve just returned from a scouting trip and have selected the cave systems of Stefanshellir and Surtshellir, which has large galleries and a very elaborate tunnel system. We are provisionally looking at setting up a small habitat, implementing knowledge from previous demonstrations of our origami tunnel and woven domes,” said Sitnikova.