NASA Geology Module Design for Extreme Environments
In collaboration with RISD and NASA we prototyped interior environments and systems for a Mars habitat. Working in teams, we built individual modules designed to fit into a standard Crew Accommodation Module (CAM).
During the studio we built a full scale model of the prototype of a CAM.
The Geology Research Module Station was our team's project. The module needed to contain the necessary equipment for preparing, examining and storing geological samples.
The module was designed around the work flow of a geologist. The left glove box section is intended for manual work on the samples. This would include cutting, grinding and preparation for microscopic analysis. A sample storage section is featured behind the glove box section.
The sample airlock was featured on the left of the module. This would allow geological samples to be inserted into the module without ever leaving the Martian atmosphere. The right section is devoted to microscopic inspection. It would include a high powered microscope, X-ray diffractometer and a computer.
We designed the module with ergonomics in mind from the beginning. The systems had be used comfortably from a 95 percentile male to a 5 percentile female.
Prototyping and Fabrication
We built a cardboard prototype of the module, which we modified throughout the design process. Many of the features from the original design were changed in the the cardboard prototype one of the most significant changes was switching the sample airlock from the left side to the front of the module.
Ergonomically the most challenging part of the module to design was the glove box and the sample containers. We tested multiple designs, using as many different human subjects as possible to ensure ease of use.
Our final prototype was built out of laser cut plywood. In order to plan the fabrication, drawings were made from measurements taken directly from the cardboard model. The drawings were translated into Solidworks sketches, which were used to design Plywood sub-assembles. The module was rebuilt and designed to be constructed in plywood.
The final prototype was covered with sheet plastic and later shipped to the the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, where the module will be used and tested in full scale Martian habitat prototypes.