Life on Mars | Heinicke University of Bremen

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“House of the Rising Sun” was one of the most popular songs from the remote station, although “Life on Mars” might have been more apt. Christiane Heinicke is the only German to have spent a year in a Mars station. Eleven meters in diameter and six meters high, the all-plastic structure was located halfway up Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It was in 2015 that the physicist, born in 1985, spent precisely 366 days in the dome with five other testers – a leap year made it the longest of NASA’s six HI-SEAS missions.

Even after her year on the station, Christiane Heinicke couldn’t get Mars out of her mind. For years, the professor from the University of Bremen has been looking for suitable accommodation for people on the Red Planet at the Center for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM). “Our job is to keep the crew alive,” she described the challenge in an interview. That’s no small feat on Mars. With temperatures of minus 65 degrees, an atmosphere of toxic carbon dioxide and very low pressure, its environment is the very definition of hostile. Featuring modules of varying sizes, the station has a laboratory module at its heart; then there are the sleeping and leisure modules, and of course the airlocks.

A future Mars station is also one of the research goals of a project by the University of Bremen which was launched in July 2022 and is called “Humans on Mars – Pathways towards long-term sustainable exploration and colonization”. term of March”. Christiane Heinicke is one of more than 60 researchers working across disciplines to develop long-lasting, long-lasting concepts for humans to explore and settle on Mars. One of the purposes is to produce oxygen (“I can’t just open the window to let the air in”), water, food, and power in the station.

However, the research will not only benefit the future inhabitants of Mars. “The technologies we are developing for Mars will be extremely useful to us here on Earth,” explains the geophysicist. An example is dry summers and drinking water: “If we could purify and reuse as much drinking water as possible on site, that would already help us enormously.


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