NASA projects are putting a human presence on mars by 2030.


Two spring courses at Carnegie Mellon will explore going to Mars from complementary perspectives

Both studios will be combined with a common objective - preparing a prototype for a Martian biome to support and maintaining plants for food and oxygen. Together we’ll investigate membrane pressure vessels, the physics, geometry, and systems components that may go into the design of an inflatable habitat for the martian surface, capable of supporting, adapting and responding to the plant-life and atmosphere inside.


NASA projects a possible human presence on Mars as early as 2030s. Before such an event can happen, we must develop systems capable of sustaining life on the red planet, lightweight and small enough to make the journey and resilient enough to survive without help from home. Many agree that the first step towards proving we can create a sustainable habitat is to design one first for plants. Recognizing that this habitat may not only be a place to survive but thrive and be a beacon and remote connection to and for life on Earth, this design-build seminar challenges students from across campus, from science, engineering, art, and architecture, to come together to develop a concept for an inflatable or deployable habitat creating an atmosphere for Earth life on Mars.

This course challenges us to design an “air-tight” / “closed loop” / lightweight deployable or inflatable habitat to house plants on Mars, projected within technologies available in 20 years.

Course Information

Responsive Mobile Environments Syllabus
Building An Atmosphere Syllabus
Meeting times T/F 10:30AM-11:50AM
Locations CFA214 (T) and HL A10 (F)
Instructors Christina Ciardullo and Daragh Byrne
Teaching Assistants -
Office Hours TBC


  1. All students taking the course must complete the online skills survey

  2. Our Slack community is the main hub for course updates, discussion and content. Read more about the slack and its role in the course.

  3. Creative projects should be documented on the IDeATe Gallery. This site contains a guide to using the gallery. These are due before class/crits.

Tools and Technology

As part of the course, we’ll use a few digital tools to help keep track of goings on, ideas, outcomes and process.

The IDeATe Gallery: All assignments will be documented and shared through the IDeATe gallery. It’s an online documentation platform where students from across IDeATe programs will present and share their work. It’s designed as a flexible and supportive tool for your work and specifically designed for the IDeATe program. Read more on using the Gallery.

Slack: We’ve created a Slack to give the course community an easy way to connect and communicate. Slack is a fun new platform for group conversations in open channels.
Use the course slack to share ideas, post open challenges, or items that need exploration, share projects, papers or research you encounter, and discuss next steps. Read more on using the course Slack.