Researchers test lunar habitat in northern Greenland | Polarjournal
The LUNARK habitat is currently undergoing its first test in North Greenland. The developers are spending three months in the capsule, which is not only intended to ensure survival but also to provide comfort and well-being. Image: LUNARK

Discovering and conquering new, unknown places, not only on earth, lies in the nature of humans. The future pioneers aim to settle on the Moon or Mars. Nowadays not impossible, but also anything but trivial. Two young space architects from Denmark have therefore decided to develop a living space that deserves this title. The capsule has already been completed and is now to be tested for three months under conditions as close as possible to those on the moon. Northern Greenland appears to the two Danes to be very well suited for such a project.

Developers Karl-Johan Sørensen and Sebastian Aristotelis are sure that people will soon be living on the Moon. However, future astronauts are in danger of withering due to a lack of nature and sensory stimuli, as they say to the Danish Society of Engineers. And this is exactly why they designed a habitat, as they call it, in their project LUNARK, which is intended to counteract monotony, claustrophobia and psychological stress. Their aim is to develop a habitat in which astronauts not only survive but thrive.

Inside the capsule there is a dynamic circadian light system (1), a 3D printer for modifications and repairs (2), a vertical farm (3), an algae-based life support system (4) and batteries, water tank and storage (5). Image: LUNARK

One of the biggest challenges for them was to develop a capsule that would provide enough space to live and at the same time be easily transported to Greenland and, in the future, to the Moon. Using the Japanese paper-folding art Origami combined with biomimicry, they achieved the construction of a stable, light and foldable structure that fits into a standard container in its compact form and enlarges by 560 percent when unfolded.

When compressed, there is still enough space in the habitat to accommodate parts of the interior design. According to Sørensen and Aristotelis, the habitat must provide “cosiness” to the space architecture, but at the same time be robust enough to withstand the extreme conditions both on the Moon and in Greenland, where they must expect inspections by curious polar bears. The habitat is completely off-grid – all energy comes from solar panels in the outer shell, which are insulated to protect against the extreme cold.

Sebastian Aristotelis and Karl-Johan Sørensen founded their own company SAGA Space Architects and previously built, among other things, a habitat for use on Mars, which is shown here. Photo: SAGA Space Architects

The two researchers are themselves the test persons for this extraordinary mission. Since early September, they have already been in the abandoned village of Moriusaq near Thule and are currently still busy setting up the capsule. As soon as the construction is complete, they will move in and spend three months in the capsule with only limited contact to “Earth”. During this time they will conduct scientific experiments and evaluate the design of their habitat. Nevertheless, they expect a “life-threatening mission, which will probably be very boring.”

They chose Northern Greenland as test area because the region is similar to the lunar surface: The landscape is lifeless and barren, the sun does not follow a normal daily rhythm and instead of a space suit you have to wear a polar suit. They say that in Northern Greenland you don’t have to pretend to be cut off from the rest of the world.

Click here for live updates on the mission:

Julia Hager, PolarJournal

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