Introduction: Martian Habitat

It's the year 2040 and you have been chosen to become the first American to step foot on Mars. After a 7-month journey towards the red planet, you begin to feel the gravitational pull of the planet as you begin your descent. As you approach the landing site, your spacecraft begins to slow down as the parachute is deployed and the reverse thrusters begin to engage. Suddenly the craft comes to a rest on the martian surface. As you sit there, in silence, you begin to think about the challenge that lies ahead of you. With a limited amount of oxygen and supplies, will you be able to colonize the planet by creating the first ever “Martian Habitat?”


- 20 Inch Box Fan

- Heavy Duty Duct Tape

- One 10'x25' roll of plastic sheeting (Heavy 3.5 mil)

- Scissors

- Sharpie/Permanent Marker

- Yard stick (3 ft or 6 ft)

Step 1: Lay Out the Plastic

Roll out the 10x25' painters plastic and then open it up completely. As you complete this task, try to eliminate as many creases as possible. You may have to hold the plastic down with weights (rocks, bean bags, etc) if you choose to do this activity outdoors and is slightly windy.

Step 2: Two Plastic Pieces (Part "A" and Part "B")

Next, looking at the width of the plastic, use your yard stick to make measurements 6 feet down from the top of the plastic. These marks should be made several feet apart from one another as you work your way down the entire length. After that, connect all the dots or markings with a sharpie pen and then cut along that finished line with scissors (Use a yard stick to make sure the line is straight).

This will create two separate parts. Part A will be a 6' x 25' segment, whereas Part B will measure 4'x25'. For now, place Part B off to the side (see picture.)

Step 3: Part "A" (The Pyramid)

Using the plastic designated as Part A, choose either end of that piece and create a 6 by 6 foot square by using your meter stick and sharpie pen. Measure horizontally and vertically. Finally use your scissors to cut it out.

On the opposite end of where you just made your 6'x6' square, you will now create 4 identical triangles. Each with a base of 6 feet and sides measuring 6 feet in length as well.

To begin this process, measure 3 ft down from the end of the plastic and make a mark (this will represent the point of the first triangle). Next, from the other corner, connect that point to the mark you just made. This will create one side of the triangle. Finally, measure 6 feet down from the edge, make a mark, and connect that spot to the original 3 feet mark. That will create one of the four triangles.

After that, you will continue to perform the same measurements by alternating the measurements on opposite sides to create three more triangles (see image).

In the end, the length of the base of each triangle will match up with each side of the square. After all the lines are drawn, all triangles should be cut out. (see right image)

Step 4: Connecting the Pyramid Together

With the square and triangles now cut out, lay the base of the triangles slightly on top of each side of the square, creating about a 1 inch overlap (See image). Now, using your heavy duty duct tape, connect the pieces together by running a strip of duct tape down each side of the square making sure both parts are sealed together. Complete this task for all four sides prior to flipping the pyramid over and repeating.

Step 5: Sealing the Pyramid / Door Opening

With the triangles connected to the square, you will now select and bring together two triangular sides of your choice (they must be from different triangles and be next to each other). After that, line the sides up and pinch them together.

With the two sides now being pinched, use strips of duct tape to seal the sides together by folding it over from one side to the other. This process will need to be completed down the entire length (top to bottom) and be repeated until all the sides of the pyramid have been sealed completely (See the image on how to connect the sides together).

Once the pyramid has been sealed, it is now time to cut a flap for an entrance way into your Martian habitat. To cut the door, draw a 22" square, centered at the base of one of the triangular sides of the pyramid (I've used the actual box of our fan to trace for this step). With the door drawn, cut only the two vertical sides and top of the doorway. This will allow the bottom portion to still be connected and be used to attach to the tunnel later on.

You have now completed Part A, which can be put aside for a few minutes.

Step 6: Part B - Tunnel Time

Now, it is time to bring back the other large piece of plastic that was cut in the early stages of this activity. We labeled it Part B.

Using that piece of plastic, stretch it out completely, go to one end, and measure down 12 feet, making a mark at that location. From that marking, measure another 12 feet and make a second mark. This will create (2) 12' segments leaving around one foot of plastic near the end. Cut all the marks vertically and you can discard the remaining 1-foot piece.

Step 7: Building the Tunnel

Taking the two 12' pieces, line them up next to each other with a 1-inch overlap. Use duct tape to connect the pieces together.

Next, grab the two long ends of the plastic and bring them together. With everything pinched and lined up, use duct tape once again to seal the pieces (this is the same process used to connect the sides of the triangle together earlier on). In the end, it will look like a long tunnel if you opened it up and looked through it.

Step 8: Connect the Pyramid and Tunnel

As you begin to move towards the final few steps of your Martian habitat, you will now be connecting the pyramid and the Tunnel together. With Part B, lined up with Part A's entrance point, tape the flap for the door to the bottom side of the tunnel (Check picture).

After that, work your way around the entrance point of the door by connecting each side of the door opening to the correct side of the tunnel. This step will be a little challenging to do, may require a little patience and some additional help. The goal here is to create a complete seal around the door frame with your tunnel.

Step 9: The Fan (Oxygen Supply)

After the tunnel has been completely attached to the doorway of the pyramid, head down to the opposite end of the tunnel. It will be here where you'll attach a box fan to provide free flowing oxygen into your habitat.

Open up the plastic and place the box fan just inside the opening. Using duct tape, attach the plastic to the fan entirely around.

Step 10: Entrance / Exit Door

With the fan connected to the tunnel and the extension cord plugged into an outlet, it's time to inflate your Martian Habitat for the first time. With the pod inflating, the final step is to cut a flap door, about half way down, on the side of the tunnel (you choose what side) for people to enter and exit. When cutting the flap, cut the 2 sides and bottom, leaving the top connected.

Step 11: Welcome to Your Martian Habitat !!!

With oxygen freely flowing and your doorway complete, it's now time to take your first steps into your newly designed Martian habitat. Congratulations! You Did it!

Extension - What better way to continue colonizing Mars then by building additional Martian habitats that can connected to your previous one. In order to complete this task, you'll build another habitat but instead of connecting it to a fan, the tunnel will be connected to one of the other three sides of the previous habitat built. You will have to cut another door for this connection to take place. One fan should be able to inflate both pods if you decide to continue your Martian adventure.

Step 12: Need Help? - Written Out Directions

If you need any additional assistance in designing your Martian habitat we've got you covered. Here are some written out steps to guide you in the process. Enjoy the journey and have fun!

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