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Comments from Jennifer Heldmann

Habitat and Living on Mars by: Chad and Kyle
This is a great concept and it's good that Chad and Kyle explain WHY they have chosen this design -- to make life on Mars similar to life on Earth. A few questions to think about as you keep working on your design:
1. Would astronauts float on Mars? Mars is a planet so being on the martian surface is different than say being on the space shuttle or space station. If astronauts don't float on Mars, would they need magnet shoes?
2. Where does the oxygen and water for the people and the greenhouse come from?
3. Great idea to put the habitat underground -- especially for shielding from the harmful radiation. How would you build such a habitat?
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Clothing for Mars By: Samantha, Cooper, Corinne, and Jacob
You have thought of some of the most important aspects of designing a spacesuit for Mars -- temperature control, protection from radiation, and protection from dust!
Would the suit be "smart" enough to know when it needs to heat or cool the astronaut while they are working? Where does the oxygen for the air tank come from? The idea of rockets on the suit is also very interesting. Can you explain more in detail how this would work? Great that you are also offering protection from the dust storms - those can be very dangerous!


Gone to Mars Clothing By: Mrs. Richards' 5th Grade Class
This is an excellent idea - mobility for the astronauts is very important on Mars so we can study the most interesting regions on the planet! Great idea to test out the boot design in a terrestrial analog location -- the Arctic and/or volcanic regions would be perfect for this. Good that you have incorporated ideas such as treads and spikes for added traction. Some additional thoughts to consider: What about the safety of the astronaut? Is there a danger that he/she might slip and fall and the spikes on the boots might tear his/her spacesuit? Is there a way to avoid this? Also, can you explain in more detail how the jets on the boots might work? Is there anything similar to this on Earth already? Why or why not?
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Going to Mars Habitat By: Mrs. Richards' 5th Grade Class
This is a great design. The vegetation module is very important to a sustained human presence on Mars. You have clearly thought about many of the issues here -- good work. Here are a few more questions: Could the same vegetation module be used to process the CO2 from the astronauts and also grow plants for food? Your design also has implications for where to land on Mars: using solar panels means you want to be somewhere with a lot of sunlight (near the equator) and using ice from Mars means you'd like to be somewhere that ice is found (near the poles), so can you find a good landing site to fit both of these needs?
Your idea of testing a greenhouse on Earth first is excellent. In fact, people are doing that right now. Go to http://www.marsonearth.org/reports/acgh.2005.update.1.html to get information about the greenhouse up in the Arctic as part of the Haughton-Mars Project!
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Going to Mars Tools By: Mrs. Richards' 5th Grade Class
Very good idea to have some way to move martian regolith (dirt) and rocks! It is also good that with your tool you can both push and shovel dirt. Testing in the Arctic or in a volcanic region on Earth is also a great idea. How would you power such a tool on Mars? 
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Going to Mars Transportation By: Mrs. Richards' 5th Grade Class
This is a very good design. It is good that you considered the possibility of difficult terrain on Mars and addressed this issue by allowing the rover to raise and lower accordingly. How does the hovering mode work? If the rover is powered by a solar panel, does it only work in the daytime or are there batteries that can be charged in case you need it to work at night (or when the sun isn't so bright - what if you got caught in a dust storm?). How many wheels does your rover has? How does this compare with the number of wheels on the rovers that are on Mars right now?
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Going to Mars Assistance By: Mrs. Richards' 5th Grade Class
The idea of a robotic assistant is great! Good that you have designed your robot to fit within your rover so you can bring the assistant into the field with you. The array of instruments on the assistant is great (video camera, computer, radiation sensors, sample containers, drill, retrieval arm). That is also a great idea to bring along some extra oxygen in case the astronauts needs the oxygen to return to the rover or habitat. How will the astronaut interact with the assistant? Will the assistant act independently of the astronaut? Will the astronaut tell the assistant what to do? Will it be a combination of both of these options?
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Transportation by Joseph in Miami
This is one of the best and most detailed designs I have seen. Joseph has paid much attention to the details regarding the interior layout of the spacecraft vehicle. The necessary components for a trip to Mars are included in this design -- well done. Good that you have thought about redundancy in terms of both the systems onboard and even the heat shield. Would the astronauts bring all of their consumables with them in this spacecraft? Have you given any thought to using resources on Mars to supply things like water, oxygen, rocket fuel, etc.?
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Living on Mars By Mrs. Laird's Class
Good idea to build the habitat in a crater to avoid having to dig into the regolith because yes, having a habitat underground can protect us from the radiation (as will the layer of water that you mention). We may also be protected from meteors as well if underground. Do you expect to have more meteors hit Mars than Earth?
Good also to include the plants and algae. Where will the water come from for them? Will we bring the water from Earth or can we get the water from Mars?
Great that you have two power sources-- windmills and solar panels. Would you also have something like batteries to store the power for when it is not windy and/or dark outside? Good idea to have heaters in the habitat, too - Mars is very cold as you said! 
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Transportation to Mars with a Rover: Mrs. Zarybnisky's Class, by Lisa, Alex, Seth, Rebecca, Autumn
Very nice design of the transportation to Mars system. Where will we get the oxygen from? Will you bring it from Earth or can you get it on Mars? What will you use the claw for on Mars? How big is the rover? How many people can ride in the rover? Good that you have thought about the importance of blocking radiation for the astronauts on Mars.
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Protection and Clothing Mrs. Zarybniskys Class by Oralia, Jose, Jennifer, Erick, Tiffany
Good that you have thought about the many needs for a spacesuit design! There is a water connector in your diagram - what is that for? For your communications, is the astronaut communicating with people still in the Habitat, people on Earth, and/or a robotic assistant? Where do you get the oxygen to fill the astronaut's tank? There is a "scissor pocket" on the astronaut's leg -- why do you think astronauts might need to use scissors? Are there any other tools the astronaut might need in the field? You have done excellent research on current space suits -- good that you have reported options for spacesuit materials and also understand the importance of having a pressurized atmosphere.
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Habitable Living on Mars Mrs. Zarybnisky’s Class
This is an important part of the design - people need a habitat to live in! You have considered most of the major needs of the astronauts in your design by including bedrooms, bathrooms, laboratory space, kitchen, medical station, EVA room, meeting area, etc. Why is there a button for the oxygen within the habitat? Do you think the astronauts would need oxygen all the time or only just sometimes in their habitat? It is a good idea to use the ice crystals from Mars to get water that the astronauts can use. How would you get the ice crystals inside the Habitat? You have included a very nice diagram showing the layout of the Habitat. Nice job.
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Tools for Rover Mrs. Zarybnisky’s Class by Nick, Nate, Trey, Stephanie, Alyssa
This is a great rover design! It is very good that you have provided justifications for your design choices and outlined your reasons for including the camera, steel walls, hard rubber wheels, etc. Very interesting idea to have a balloon in case the rover flips over. In your design do the astronauts only ride inside the rover or can they get out of the rover to do field work as well? Think about what might be the best uses of the humans for examining the geology, studying the rocks, looking for biology, etc. Could astronauts in the habitat control the rover or do the astronauts need to be inside the rover? Could people on Earth control the rover? Why or why not? How long does it take to send a signal from Earth to Mars? If we send humans all the way to Mars, do we want to give them the chance to explore Mars first-hand? It is very good that you are using the rover and its instruments to assist the humans, though.
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Assistance on Mars Mrs. Zarybnisky’s Class by Jonathon, Tony, Hailey, Levyana, Zach
This is a very advanced design for the special assistant! It is great that you have thought about the mobility of the robot and included things such as the spiked conveyor belt for motion and a spring mechanism to maneuver over large ditches and such. It is also good that you have recognized that the robot may have to travel over many different types of terrain -- icy ground, sharp rocks, etc. Since your robot has two eyes, does it also have artificial intelligence to make decisions as to where to go or is it controlled by humans? The robot is covered in nylon -- why is the outer shell "thin"? Good that you have included scientific instruments to analyze the rocks collected and determine what they are made of. Once the rocks are deposited inside the robot in the "rock storage place", can the astronauts ever access them to study the rocks themselves? How will they do this? Also, is there a way to recharge the battery that powers the robot? Very nice design.


Mars Space Suit by John-Paul
This design is fantastic! John-Paul seems to really understand the needs of a scientist working in the field! The gloves are great because astronauts really need the flexibility and dexterity to pick up rocks and small items. Great idea to have the underside of the arm reflective - this can be a safety feature so the astronaut doesn't always have to bend over to see things on the ground. The helmet is great, too -- nice idea to have the entire helmet made of the same material that protects from UV and also darkens in bright sunlight. It is important to be able to see all that is going on around you. The flashlight and velcro on the suit would both be useful as well. The retractable cleats are an interesting idea. How does the astronaut tell the cleats to retract or not? Also, is there a safety issue with the cleats? Are they sharp and could the cleats accidentally tear the spacesuit? The waste disposal system is also important, especially if the astronauts will be doing an EVA for a long period of time. For the temperature controls, why did you choose a passive cooling suit instead of the active LCG? This is ok - just be sure to provide a reason. Overall, great design.
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Habitat by Mrs. Betke’s Class
Interesting habitat design. Why did you choose two levels for the habitat structure instead of two structures side-by-side on the ground? Which option would be easier to build? Try to include more detail as to the design of each component. For example, what is needed in the bottom dome? Bedrooms? Bathrooms? Laboratories? Kitchen? Communications and power supplies? You can then create a layout of your habitat once you know what needs to be in it. Good that you've recognized the importance of growing crops on Mars. Would this be like a martian greenhouse? What might you grow in the greenhouse?
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Clothing by Mrs. Betke's Class
This is a good start for the design of a glove. Gloves will be needed as part of the spacesuit if the astronauts go outside of the Habitat to do work on Mars. In your design, what are the miscellaneous buttons used for? What sort of information would be shown on the screen? You might also want to include the design of the rest of the spacesuit as well. How might you design the boots, pants, sleeves, helmet, etc.? How would you regulate the temperature of the astronaut? How would the astronaut communicate with the other astronauts? With the Habitat?
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Assistant by Mrs. Betke's Class
Good start on the design of the assistant. Would this assistant follow the astronauts out into the field? There is a keyboard on the assistant -- what sort of information would the astronaut enter into the computer? There is also a satellite -- would this be for sending information back to the Habitat? Back to Earth? Communicating with the astronauts in the fiel? The mud flap is an interesting aspect of the design. Although there is likely no mud on the surface of Mars today, the mud flap might be useful for blocking some of the martian dust that would get kicked up as the assistant moved across the planet's surface. On the Moon the Apollo astronauts actually added mud flap-like devices to their lunar buggy because of all the dust!
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House / Lab Mrs. Betke's Class by Tyler
Great start on the habitat design, Tyler! It is good that you've included aspects of both the living area/house and the laboratory for the astronauts. What types of things are sensed through the special sensory vent? What types of data are gathered and tested on each of the floors? You can now build upon this preliminary design and outline what the inside of the habitat might look like. Can you think of other rooms the astronauts on Mars might need? How about bedrooms, living areas, bathrooms, etc.? The infrared window is an interesting idea as well. What if we had a portable infrared instrument so that we could look at objects in many different locations on Mars and not just those that we can see looking out that one window?
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Habitat / Stove Mrs. Betke's Class
Interesting idea for the stove on Mars. In your design, where would you get the gas to feed the stove? Would this come from Mars or would you bring it from Earth? Why do you choose to use a gas powered stove instead of other types of stove such as electric? In venting the exhaust to the atmosphere, should we be worried about pollution on Mars? For cooking, what other types of appliances might the astronauts need on Mars?
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Habitat / Mars Colony by Jessica, Home School, 6th Grade
This is a most fantastic and very thorough design! Very well done. It is clear that Jessica has spent time thinking about the design of her Mars colony and understands the needs of the astronauts that will be living there. The overall design is outstanding. Great attention is paid to the details including the layout of the five large and two mini domes, inclusion of hospitals and veterinary offices, laboratory space, mining operations, farming activities, etc. Very good use of the martian resources as well. It is good that Jessica is aware of the potential uses of the martian polar caps and has incorporated this into her design. The use of air locks is important as well - good idea to use double air locks in some places as well. The inhabitants of this colony will likely be very happy, well-fed, and productive scientists.
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Mars Clothing Ms. Jamison's Class by Chaise
Good start on the design of the spacesuit! You have done a good job of making sure the astronaut can see while out in the field by including the lights and sun protection on the visor. Good that you have also included an oxygen supply for the astronaut. What is the use of the cryo tanks? Also, how does the astronaut use the camera that is attached to his/her arm? Can the astronaut see the pictures that are taken? Interesting to also include the wind storm holders. Are these sharp, and if so could that be dangerous to the astronaut (could they tear the spacesuit?)?
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Mars Habitat Ms. Jamison's Class by Garrett
Great idea for a large, long-term colony on Mars! Good use of solar panels to provide power to the colony. How does the colony get power when it is not sunny outside? Are there batteries that can be charged up, or are there other power sources available? If there are many Mars Domes all around Mars, would the people in the different Domes be able to talk with one another? How? Would they be able to travel between Mars Domes?
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Assistant Ms. Wright's Class by Adam, Brett, Grace, Matt, Ragan and Cody
Great start on the design of your assistant! Good idea to use rechargable batteries and solar power, and also good idea to include the ability to use power from the rover in case there is power failure on the main ship. Why is your camera on the rover protected by a heat shield? What are the temperatures like on Mars? Mars is further away from the sun - would you expect Mars to be hotter or colder than Earth? Can you think of any other instruments to put on the rover? Can you think of any more ways the rover can assist the astronauts? For example, can the assistant carry back samples for the astronauts?
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Instrumentation Design Ms. Wright's 6th grade by Courtney, Elizabeth and Greg
These are very good instructions for building the tripod and mounting the instruments. You have done a great job of including all the information needed for anyone to build this piece of equipment. Can you think of any other instruments that might be useful to put on the tripod? Is the tripod mobile or will it be set up in one location and left there?
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Habitat / Energy Ms. German's Class
Great plan for providing energy on Mars. Good idea to use the solar panel arrays to charge up batteries so you always have power available. What happens if the protective "bubble" surrounding the solar panels gets covered with dust? Is there a way to clean the bubble, or a way to have the bubble repel the dust? Sometimes the winds on Mars are enough to blow the dust off of the solar panels themselves -- this has happened on the two rovers that are on Mars right now, Spirit and Opportunity. Good idea to also use power generated from the wind on Mars, too. The atmosphere on Mars is much thinner than the atmosphere on Earth. Do you think this will affect the amount of power generated by the winds? It is also very important that you've included people to manage the power supply as well. Good job.
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Space Suit Design Ms. German's Class
Good start on the design of the spacesuit. Good that you have included temperature controls for the astronaut. How does the "food inserter" work? Also, how does the "bathroom flap" work? Remember you do not want to open up the spacesuit on Mars when you are out in the field -- the suit needs to be entirely self-contained. You can also now include other aspects of the suit design. How will the astronaut communicate with other astronauts and/or the Habitat? Your drawing shows the astronaut wearing mitten-type gloves -- is this the best design or would the astronaut want gloves with fingers and more dexterity for doing things like picking up small rocks and other objects? You could also expand on the design of the helmet, boots, etc.
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Habitat / Windows Ms. German's Class

Interesting design for the habitat windows. Why is the "defrost" button on the outside of the Habitat? Would the astronauts ever want to defrost the windows by pushing a button on the inside of the habitat? Also, there is not much water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars. Would you expect a lot of frost to build up on the windows? How does the defroster work? What happens when you push the button?
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Instruments / Clock Ms. German's Class
This is an important aspect of living on Mars -- good that you have realized that the length of the day is different on Mars and Earth! It would be important to be living on "Mars time" when on Mars so that the sun always rises in the morning and sets at night -- at the right times!
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Mars Calendar Mr. Sabbagha's Students, Antioch Charter Academy Middle School
This is a great project and very well done by the students. It is fantastic that the students have recognized that since the orbital parameters for Mars (rotation rate, orbit, tilt, etc.) are different than for Earth, then this translates into a different length of day and year on Mars. It will be important for the people in the Mars colony to be living on Mars time. The division of the year into 670 sols, 10 months/year, 10 sols/week is great. The students have worked out the details of the timeline and have come up with a logical, impressive calendar system for Mars.
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NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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