Purdue University Graduate School
Ulmer_final 2023.6.13.pdf (5.26 MB)

A Resilience-Oriented Extra-Terrestrial Habitat Design Process

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posted on 2023-06-13, 20:07 authored by Jacqueline UlmerJacqueline Ulmer


In the wake of the first Artemis launch, humanity is more focused on space exploration and travel than it has been in the half a century since the Space Race. This time, it’s not enough just to touch down on the Moon; we want to build sustainable homes on the Moon and on Mars. The goal of long-term extra-terrestrial habitation begs the question: how do we design habitats that can protect human life so far from Earth?

The Resilient Extra-Terrestrial Habitat Institute (RETHi) has been operating for four years now building a foundation of ideologies and tools to help answer that question. The institute has developed a control-theoretic approach to habitat resilience based on a state-trigger analysis, a database of potential hazards to a habitat, metrics for resilience quantification, and simulation platforms for design verification.

The combination of these developments allows for the proposition of a resilience-oriented habitat design process. The process takes the shape of a typical systems vee and is tailored to the needs of an extra-terrestrial habitat and the tools available through RETHi. The process proposes a way to build resilience into the requirements development and design verification of extra-terrestrial habitats at three system levels. The result of this study is a discussion on how we design, evaluate, and select safety mechanisms for extra-terrestrial habitats.

Safety mechanisms are selected by simulating the habitat’s response to a disruption when equipped with one safety mechanism at a time and quantifying the habitat’s resilience. Then, the resilience of the habitats with different mechanisms are compared, illuminating the best option. Simulations for each mechanism are performed under a variety of circumstances, changing the time of day and intensity of the disruption as well as the type of repair agent carrying out the mechanism to capture the habitat’s behavior as totally as possible.

This analysis shows how different safety mechanisms performances compare and provides a basis for making design decisions.



National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Degree Type

  • Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Karen Marais

Additional Committee Member 2

Leifur Leifsson

Additional Committee Member 3

Shirley Dyke

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