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Constructing an Educational Mars SimulationWorking in the Educational Programs Office, my task this summer is to model a 3D habitat that will be part of a future Mars base. With the President's charge to further explore mars by way of robotic-led and human-led missions, there has been a surge in the activity regarding the "red planet". Since all present designs are merely conjecture, I have some creative freedom in deciding what the habitat will look like. To get ideas for what a Mars habitat might be like, I looked at several references including websites and NASA documents. One of these was a NASA Technical Memorandum about Space Transportation Systems that I looked at to get insight on spaceship design. Information about the planet's environment, such as the gravity and the weather, is useful as well when designing the structure. The main software that I am using is Lightwave 3D and Modeler 7.5 that comes along with it. Lightwave is very complex in that it lets you model, surface, and animate so there was a lot to learn. To learn the software I watched a series of instructional videos, looked at online tutorials, and referenced several books. Modeling is like shaping clay with a computer. Every item modeled is made of smaller shapes called polygons. For example, each side of a box would be a different polygon. Modelers must be careful to design with users' systems in mind. Having a model made with too many polygons can slow down a walk-through, but it usually improves the small details on a model. Getting speed and quality proved tricky. An important thing for me to remember when modeling the habitat was to save space. Also, I must consider that technology in the future will be much different than now, so I must be especially creative. My project will be used in an educational walkthough simulation in which users can interact with the environment. I worked closely with intern Stephen Henke who built a Mars Rover, terrain and programmed code for the simulation. This summer's project will help me with future aspirations in computer graphics. Modeling is a valuable skill that I appreciate having the chance to learn and practice.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Henke, Stephen A.
(Toledo Univ. OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2004
Publication Information
Publication: Research Symposium I
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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