Systems Engineering Seminar

Pioneering Martian Research Base Architecture

Presented by:
Sarag J. Saikia, Ph.D

May 11, 2017 - 1:00 pm
Building 36 - C211 Symposium (GSFC)


The conceptual design of a "pioneering" base on Mars that can support about 50 persons with incremental buildup of capabilities will be presented. The pioneering base is similar to the "winter-over" scenario of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, which will serve as the proving ground for further expansion. The work includes construction strategy, civil engineering needs, and operations plan for the pioneering base on the Red Planet along with resilient and flexible mission architectures and implementation approaches. The work also includes detailed analysis for exploration zone selection, landing site selection, and strategy to achieve revolutionary gains in planetary science with boots on the ground. The activities in the pioneering base will identify capabilities and resources that will be key to establishing a sustainable human presence on Mars. The pioneering martian research base, possible in the next several decades, can help establish a strong foothold on the Red Planet, after which a long-term colony can be established that can operate without "routine" support and supplies from Earth. Finally, we all will travel to Mars via Virtual Reality demonstration of the martian base.

The work was carried out at Purdue University as an intensive, multi-disciplinary design exercise which was part of the course, Human Journey to Mars.


Sarag is a native of Assam, India, one of the largest tea producing regions in the world. After graduating with a Ph.D. in Astronautical Engineering from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University in August 2015, Sarag Saikia joined his alma mater as a visiting assistant professor. Prof. Saikia holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering with distinction from Nagpur University, India, and a master's degree in Astronautics from Purdue. Sarag briefly worked in the iron/steel industry followed by policy research in the energy and power sector of India. For his Ph.D., Dr. Saikia worked under the supervision of Prof. James Longuski on analytical theories for spacecraft aerocapture, entry, descent, and landing; and advanced EDL concepts. For his work, he has won the best paper awards for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014) at the International Planetary Probe Workshop (IPPW). Dr. Saikia's current research spans robotic and human exploration missions; trajectory design; technologies for extreme environments (e.g. mobility systems for ocean worlds exploration); human Mars exploration architecture design. Dr. Saikia works closely with Apollo Astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin's on his Cycling Pathway to Occupy Mars architecture.


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