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Thermal Evaluation and Optimization of an Analog Mars Habitat Using Numerical Modeling and Instrument Measurements

Hello, I am Dr. Oleg Abramov and my research will involve conducting thorough measurements of the habitat’s internal and external temperatures as a function of time using a network of wireless sensors. Prior to the start of the simulated Mars mission, Dr. Abramov, with assistance from support personnel, will deploy a network of 24 Omega OMWT-TEMP15 wireless temperature sensors/transmitters. The sensors will transmit real-time temperature data every 10 seconds to an Omega wireless receiver (OMWT-REC232), which will be located inside the hab and connected to a laptop computer with a DB9-to-USB serial adapter cable. Dr. Abramov will use the Omega OMWT- series Windows software for display, preliminary analysis, and recording of data. This will allow rapid identification of existing heat sources and sinks. The temperature dataset will then be imported into a sophisticated three-dimensional thermal model of the hab, based on HEATING 7.3, a general-purpose, three-dimensional, finite-difference heat transfer program written and maintained by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with which Dr. Abramov has extensive experience. Once agreement between temperature data and the thermal model is achieved, the model will allow rapid testing of possible improvements in areas of insulation, air flow, heat generation, and solar absorption.


The project is broken down into the following three tasks:

• Task 1: Construct a preliminary thermal model of the HI-SEAS Mars analog habitat. Compile engineering details of the habitat, including exact dimensions and materials used for each component, use the HEATING 7.3 modeling package and its materials library to replicate the thermal characteristics of the habitat in a computer model, incorporate expected diurnal temperature and insolation cycles at the habitat location, and perform preliminary testing and validation of the model.

• Task 2: Use data from wireless temperature sensors to test the model. Procure the wireless temperature sensors, receiving station, and associated software, perform preliminary testing of the system components, and, once on site, deploy the sensor network, perform in-situ testing, calibration and validation of the temperature sensor grid and software, and troubleshoot and replace any units if needed.

• Task 3: Refine the model and make improvements to habitat. Compare results from the model to the data from temperature sensors, make modifications to the thermal model as needed, implement improvements to temperature control in the hab by optimizing insulation, shading, airflow and heat source locations, and re-adjust the model accordingly in an iterative, incremental process. Available materials may include insulating liners, which attach to inside of the habitat frame, and “Thermoshield Insulative Paint” which reduces light penetration and decreases solar heating of the habitat’s interior. Project support personnel will assist with this
task as needed.

The significance of this work is twofold: (i) in the short term, it will suggest immediate improvements for temperature control in the HI-SEAS hab by optimizing its thermal state using existing materials and equipment, which will benefit both the initial and subsequent crews, as well as potentially reduce operational expenses for the project, and (ii) in the long term, it will identify potential improvements to the construction of analog Mars habitats, which will be applicable to future simulated missions and will perhaps lay the foundation for thermal design requirements of an eventual Mars habitat.

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