Some potential design solutions are being showcased at a new exhibit at London's Design Museum, called "Moving to Mars", which opens on October 18.

This undated artist rendering from the European Space Agency, shows the European-Russian ExoMars rover.
This undated artist rendering from the European Space Agency, shows the European-Russian ExoMars rover. (AP)

Sending humans to Mars isn't just a new frontier for scientists, it's also one for designers.

International design firm Hassell is showcasing a full-scale prototype Mars habitat, its inflatable living pods are intended to be shielded from radiation by Martian dust.

The philosophy is to make maximum use of the materials to hand. The structure has been developed as a harmonious, domed, shell-like shape, which makes use of every inch of space.

"So, these racks are able to move, so that way we can actually kind of create much more space," explains Xavier De Kestelier, head of design technology and innovation at Hassell.

"Here, we can go in, do something, once we've done, once we've our clothes, we can just kind of close it all off and go into the lab over there, for example."

Key to the habitat's design is sustainability - the flooring is made from bamboo, the furniture is 3D-printed with recycled plastics, perhaps from packaging or science experiments.

"We had to think very sustainable to make it work. The shell structure, the protection shield is made out of Martian dust," says De Kestelier.

'New Horizons'

But what are future Martians going to wear? London fashion studio Raeburn has created this stylish Mars apparel.

Its "New Horizons" collection is inspired by the adaptive reuse approach.

It uses lightweight insulating material designed by NASA for space exploration, including solar blankets and parachutes.

"Sustainability is not a thing, is not a trend. It's a very real reality in this instance," says performance director Graeme Raeburn.

"You've got an absolutely limited amount of resource, there is no restock coming, you can't pop out to the shops and go and get something.

"So, can you actually reuse something? Is it available to repair? Have you got those repair tools? Is there a sewing machine on board?"

Raeburn says the creativity driven by Mars missions will also have an effect on how we live back on Earth.

"You only have to look at actually the trickledown effect from the space race, from going to the moon and what that's enabled, what that's been a catalyst for, actually accelerating all kinds of technology, batteries, mobile phones, material science, the clothing that we're wearing, have all been improved," he says.

The creations are on show as part of a new exhibit at The Design Museum in London.

It features early observations of Mars from 1,000 BC, astronaut spacesuits and the Red Planet in pop culture, including film and music. In total, there are around 200 items on display.

It may all seem like science fiction, but the exhibit also features a full-scale model of the European Space Agency's ExoMars rover, that's set to travel to the Red Planet next year.

"Everything that we learn to get to Mars, all of the technology and knowledge that we'll need to build up to make that mission possible, has very direct Earth applications that we need today," says the exhibit's curator Eleanor Watson

"It's the ultimate design challenge because every single aspect of the mission needs to be very rigorously designed and the challenges are enormous."

"Moving to Mars" opens at The Design Museum in London on Friday 18 October and will run till 23 February 2020.

Source: AP