by Mason Robbins
In a quiet corner of the historic Biosphere 2 campus, a team of dedicated individuals continues their mission, now in progress for nearly three years. SAM (Space Analog for the Moon and Mars) is expanding to include a massive indoor Mars yard, a terrain park that works to replicate the harsh environments of the red planet right here on our own planet Earth. Over the past several weeks, they’ve made remarkable progress in bringing the massive, indoor SAM Mars yard to life.
Join us on a journey through time and space as we delve into the captivating narrative of their ongoing work … with photos coming soon!
The Journey Resumes (Week of 7th August 2023)
With three years of dedicated effort behind them, the team carried on work at SAM, ready to take their project to the next level. Their first task was to untangle the complex web of electrical wires and conduit that had evolved over time. With precision and patience, they meticulously labeled and toned out 95% of the wires, bringing a sense of order to the chaos. The quarter-steel wings that lined the support posts were given attention, as sanding commenced, preparing them for future use. A trip to Home Depot was on the agenda, with Kai picking up essential parts for the upcoming phases. Work on the yard’s electrical blueprints began to take shape.
Crafting the Foundation Anew (Week of 14th August 2023)
The team approached their tasks with a deeper understanding of the project’s intricacies. They set out to complete the sanding and priming of bay door headers, now with a well-honed technique. Unneeded conduit and wire were removed, further simplifying the yard’s layout. Electrical backboards received the sand-prime-paint treatment, ensuring they would stand up to the challenges ahead. Collaboration with Kevin, the electrician, yielded progress on J-box placements and switch wire toning. Another Home Depot visit followed, expanding the growing parts list. On the east wall, electrical preparations were made for the removal and installation of new poly panels. The steel for the west wall arrived and was carefully offloaded and stacked.
Assembling the Pieces with Seasoned Expertise (Week of 21st August 2023)
The team supervised and assisted the C&D doors team as they embarked on the installation of two bay doors. Backboards and frames received their finishing touches with a fresh coat of paint. An electrical junction box was installed on the west wall, accompanied by the meticulous process of re-labeling wires. Conduit and wire that had outlived their purpose were removed, streamlining the setup. Plans for J-box cut-ins and a 3-way switch were laid out with Kevin. A meeting with the general contractor regarding crater walls and poly panel installation shed light on the project’s broader scope. New drawings were created to assist poly installers with roof measurements, and parts runs to Home Depot continued. Meanwhile, a unique challenge presented itself as the team battled a persistent wasp population.
Pushing the Boundaries with Three Years of Wisdom (Week of 4th September 2023)
As they pressed onward, the team leveraged their experience, their focus on the west wall, and the intricate task of fitting panels within the c-channel guided by Kai’s expertise. Multiple visits to metal fabrication shops ensued, driven by the need to re-manufacture horizontal support beams. Abbott Metal Fab emerged as a potential partner, with a template beam dropped off for a quote. Home Depot remained a reliable source for parts, as the team worked to make electrical piping align with the new panels. East and North Wall Power boxes were mounted with precision. Conduit runs that obstructed progress were ruthlessly removed, and updates were shared with Kai through photos and emails.
As we reflect on these past three years of intense effort and dedication, it’s evident that the SAM project is not just about creating a physical space analog; it’s about the meticulous planning, collaboration, and relentless pursuit of perfection that will eventually propel humanity to new frontiers. Each day brings new challenges and discoveries, and as the SAM team continues to work tirelessly, they inch closer to realizing their dream of simulating the conditions of Mars right here on Earth. Stay tuned for more updates as we follow this incredible journey through space and time.