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Mars Greenhouse 


BEAVER: Biosphere Engineered Architecture for Viable Extraterrestrial Residence

2019 NASA BIG Idea Challenge Finalist

Cambridge, MA & Hampton, VA

October 2018-August 2019

As part of NASA's 2019 BIG Idea Challenge, I worked with an interdisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students from MIT, Politecnico di Milano, and Politecnico di Torino to design and prototype BEAVER, a greenhouse for Mars. BEAVER is designed to be compatible with the existing Mars Ice Home. Utilizing an innovative spiral design and an inflatable, cylindrical structure to optimize mass and surface area for crop growth, BEAVER can support the nutritional and caloric requirements for 4 astronauts for 600 days, survive transport and the extreme Martian environment, and is composed solely of high TRL, redundant, dual-use components. I was responsible for the original CAD model in SketchUp and contributed to FEM analysis, the final renders in Rhino, and the prototypes.


Render of BEAVER (center left) with the Mars Ice Home

06_ground floor.jpg

Render of greenhouse lower level

03_top floor.jpg

Render of greenhouse lower level


I was part of the Architecture Group, designing BEAVER’s structure, creating renderings and animations in SketchUp and Rhino, and compiling the final 2-minute video submission. I also helped CAD and build the prototypes. Architecturally, BEAVER is noteworthy for its unique spiral design to optimize plant growth area. BEAVER was designed with aesthetics and ease of use in order to maximize benefits to astronauts. Astronauts can easily monitor crops, stroll next to the greenery, and relax in the mental health area at the top of the dome, which includes areas to run and lounge.


Jana Lukic

Sketch of deployed greenhouse


Jana Lukic

Sketch of stowed greenhouse


Jana Lukic

Sketch of greenhouse crosssection


We made three main prototypes, which we presented at the BIG Idea Challenge finals. The first was a modular 3D-printed model of the key components of the greenhouse. The second was a cardboard model demonstrating the storage and deployment of the spiral and its support structures. The third was an inflatable model of the outer shell of the greenhouse to demonstrate its storage and deployment.


3D-printed modular model of greenhouse


Compressed cardboard spiral


Expanded cardboard spiral


Compressed cardboard spiral support tube


Expanded cardboard spiral support tube


Plastic sheet cut to enable folding


Plastic strips bent to shape and melted to form an airtight seal 


Inflating prototype

NASA BIG Idea Challenge Finals


I presented at the NASA BIG Idea Challenge finals at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA

BIG Idea Challenge


After the finals my team enjoyed the beach, where we could see ships from the Norfolk Naval Station 

Eric Hinterman


My team was recognized as a finalist in the BIG Idea Challenge

BIG Idea Challenge


My team showed off our final 3D-printed model

BIG Idea Challenge

Other Presentations

In addition to the BIG Idea Forum (slides, video), I presented BEAVER to the Consulate-General of Japan at the Forum of U.S.-Japan Alliance in a New Space Age: Back to the Moon and as a poster at the International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES), where I received a student poster award.

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