Resilient Extra Terrestrial Habitats Institute (RETH) at Purdue


Extraterrestrial habitat pictures that
you see in magazines and such, or on television, they don’t look as realistic
as they need to be. The biggest issue is the hazards that these habitats are
going to have to deal with. Things like meteoroids, Mars quakes, sandstorms and
radiation. RETH is about developing smart habitats that are able to respond
to the changes and the hazards and all of the things that could go wrong during
a space mission. What happens when there is radiation exposure? What happens when
there is a Mars quake? What happens when there is a sandstorm? How do we maintain
a habitat that has to stay within the boundaries of supporting life, while also
being able to do science, while also protecting occupants? We have to keep
that functioning no matter what. Thrust two is how do you build sensors and
instrumentation and health management systems that are going to be able to
diagnose what is going wrong, when and if something goes wrong. We’re also
incorporating robotics. So the robots are going to be doing various tasks
regarding the science, but they will also have to deal with the maintenance issues
as well. So if something goes wrong and you have to go out and repair something,
do we have the robots that can do that autonomously. Up until now we’ve done a
lot of simulations. We’re aiming to build a quarter-sized habitat that would be
partially virtual, and partially physical. Hybrid simulation is mixing computer
models with physical specimens, and running an interactive test in a big
control loop. And so by doing this type of testing, we can test the parts that we
don’t understand, but we can put into our computer simulations the parts that we
do understand. And the interaction between those is what we can really
focus on. This builds upon all the history here at Purdue of having the
largest number of astronauts, and we’re very excited to have this chance to
propagate this forward, build a new area of expertise. Ultimately the goal is to
serve humanity, right? The habitats are there to serve
humans, for exploration in the future, and also that are probably going to have
significant ramifications here on earth. Helping us here on earth to be better
prepared for hazards: earthquakes, hurricanes. And we can better respond and
be prepared for those types of events.

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