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Creating a Storyboard about The Mars Society's Mars Analog Reserch Station Program

[For Mars Society Chapters and NSS Chapters supporting the M.A.R.S. Hab effort]

Note: The Wisconsin Mars Society Chapter [WMS] has designed a Storyboard on the M.A.R.S. program, along with a diorama with a low-detail 4" diameter Hab, to sit at the storyboard's base and to call the attention of passersby to the storyboard itself. The WMS exhibit is the basis for the layout, instructions, guidelines -- and image & text resources below.

Photo of Completed WMS M.A.R.S. Hab Exhibit

Instructions to replicate the diorama & Hab model are below.

WMS has also produced a 2-sided MARS Hab flyer to accompany this exhibit. The pdf version of this flyer has a blank box for imprinting your chapter's name and contact information.

Date posted: 10|23|2002

Last revised: 10|07|2004

On this page you will find Pictures & Text with which to assemble a storyboard of your own design and arrangement

Storyboard Substrate options

  • foam core board: paper covered foam 1/2", 1/4", or 1/8" thick can be purchased from any art supply shop
  • cardboard: many places sell trifold white corrugated cardboard "Science Project Display Boards"
  • plywood is sturdy, but heavier
  • commercial high-tech fabric covered display systems are very expensive. More importantly, they look too "commercial

The Table Dimensions below - set at 24% - 48% - 24% provide a suggested dimensions (25% - 50% - 25%). You will need as much or more space for the display items (photos, graphs, art, actual samples) for the center section as for the two flanking columns together. But before purchasing your substrate board material, do a table top layout to see what dimensions will work for you. You can make dimensions by resizing the graphic components as well as font sizes for text.

Text suggestions are kept concise for quick scanning by the visitor to your exhibit. This also allows the use of larger, more readable font sizes. Fonts are a matter of choice, but a sans serif font is easier to read on a quick glance. I find Comic Sans especially so, but again, that's a matter of taste.

Mars Society Logo
shows both Earth M.A.R.S Hab & real MarsHab

"Why a MarsHab on Earth?" Simulation Exercises

What we hope to Learn

suiting up- sim [2]
field work

What we have learned already - ATVs 

MDRS Crew-Lg
MDRS Crew-Sm

Volunteers Needed

"M.A.R.S. on Earth"
Mars Analog Research Station MarsHab Project

Photo M.A.R.S - Map - Photo M.D.R.S

Text mArs - Text mDrs

Haughton Crater terrain - Utah Desert Terrain

"The rationale behind the MarsHab's Size and Shape"

Graphic of External Tank [ET photo]

ET aft cargo carrier
text: about the ACC

Illustration of Ares
text: about Ares

TransHab Illustration [2]
text: about TransHab

Proposed Australian Hab
text: about Mars-Oz

.....WMS Table Top Version Ready to Copy
Title Text - MARS_on_Earth_header.pdf

Photo M.A.R.S(1) - Map - Haughton Crater terrain(2)

[Text 2nd line on pdf file above]

Photo M.D.R.S.(1) - Utah Desert Terrain(2)

Print instructions: (1) page set up Portrait, shrink to fit -- (2) page set up Landscape, shrink to fit



If you are making a larger storyboard

You may want to use one of the popular ready to go trifold display boards 12-24-12" wide by 36" high (available at most office supply stores). This will give you more space for more graphics & text. You might include a tour of the interior of a M.A.R.S. Hab. Such a tour used to be available for the Arctic Hab, but now seems to be available only on the Euro M.A.R.S. Design page where you will find text and floor plans for the 3 levels (the Euro Hab is just a bit taller, enough so to allow a usable attic of sorts.)

Suggested Accompanying Texts - you can expand these suggested texts below, or make them more concise, depending on the size of your Story Board. Make sure that what text you have is clear and easy for the casual passerby to read. Less words, larger type is better than more information and details that will result in fewer people stopping to read.

Simulation Exercises: - "Simulating" Operations & Activities of Crews at a real Mars Outpost, will teach us to design both Base & Equipment for improved Safety, Ease of use, Productivity, Morale, & Success.

What we Hope to Learn - Each Station must be a realistic and adaptable habitat at which the hands-on experience of "going through the motions" in "as realistic a setting" as we can find on Earth will help develop and test key habitat design features, field exploration strategies, tools, technologies, and crew selection protocols. Our goal is to optimize the productivity of a human mission to Mars.

What we have learned already

  • Pressurized crew vehicles will be limited in the sites it can visit and explore. ATVs, one to ride scout, others to explore difficult , will greatly increase the flexibility and yield of each sortie.
  • Individuals are limited in the terrain that they can explore in a space suit. Tethered miniature wheeled or tracked probes can scamper up cliffs and into crevices as well as inspect the undercarriage of big rovers and the Hab itself.
  • We can get along with only a third as much water per person per day as NASA had expected.

Are you a potential crew member? - The crews for each rotation at the various Mars Habs are volunteers. Interest is high and if you have strong expertise in an area that will be important for Mars exploration, that will count in your favor.

The Mars Arctic Research Station - The first M.A.R.S. Hab is located on Devon Island, a polar desert in the far north (75° N) of Canada's Nunavut Territory. A huge meteor struck here 23 million years ago, producing a 12 mile wide crater and shocked terrain whose subsequent development under polar conditions has created some of the most Mars like geology on Earth. The station was built in summer 2000, and a series of 4 -11 day crew rotations were done in the summer of 2001. The summer seasons when operations are practical are short, 6-8 weeks long at best.

The Mars Desert Research Station - Because of its ease of access, the Utah location is the ideal place to test equipment eo be sent later to more remote and unforgiving locations. This station is also the best place to begin long-duration isolation experiments.

"ET-Sizing" the MarsHab for EZ Transportation - The Mars Society's Simulation Stations are sized & shaped to ride into space above or below the Space Shuttle External Tank, and sharing the tank's 27.5 foot diameter.

The Aft Cargo Carrier - an early (mid-80s) design for a 27.5 ft. wide module (cargo or habitat) that would ride into space attached to the bottom of the External Tank

Ares, a Shuttle-Derived heavy lift vehicle for "Mars Direct" missions - This is a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle concept that would have a large cargo hold perched above the Shuttle External Tank (in lieu of an orbiter). The Mars Hab would fit inside.

TransHab, a same-size inflatable carried in the Shuttle payload bay - NASA's project to design and build an inflatable module that could be flight-tested attached to the Space Station, would have been of comparable size and shape. Designed with Mars Missions in mind, this project was aborted by Congress in 1999.

The "biconic" design to be simulated in the Australian MarsHab facility - The Mars Society's 4th Analog Station (Mars-Oz), in South Australia, will test the biconic habitat shape proposed in some Mars Mission scenarios. The purpose will be to see if this design or the "double tuna can" design, does a better job of supporting operations, and if so, in what way.


Wisconsin Mars Society M.A.R.S. Hab Diorama

The idea is simple - a 3-D piece to draw passersby to the table, and focus their attention on the storyboard itself. For this purpose, a high detail model of a M.A.R.S. Hab was not necessary.

The size of the WMS storyboard was chosen for easy portability in the one box with the accompanying diorama, and designed for table top use. Its dimensions are 20" h x 40" w (8" + 24" + 8"). If transportation is not a problem, an/or the storyboard/exhibit is to be self-standing, then it can be designed as large as you want. Naturally, a larger one can hold more photos and text. We cut ours from one piece of 1/2" foam core board [1/4" would do], scoring the back side, bending it, so that the intact paper on the front side serves as hinges.

Storyboard Text & Images: Print indicated pdf files (per special instructions where given) on gloss or satin paper, and apply to foam core with spray adhesive.

M.A.R.S. Hab low-detail model (photo to be posted by mid-November, 02)

You will need (2) PVC end caps, sewer schedule 4.0 (4"), available for about $3-4 a pair at your local home center. These pieces are already white so they do not need to be painted. You can remove any adhesive from UPC stickers with Oops or Goof Off. And if there is anything imprinted in black ink on the pieces, this will come off with a little acetone on a rag.

You can fit the two caps together using an inner sleeve cut from a cardboard carpet tube, or a section of 4" PVC sewer pipe (we happened to have this, but they come only in 10' lengths!) or you can fashion a separator out of plain cardboard.

If you use a PVC sleeve, and want to cement the two halves together using PVC cleaner and cement, first drill a small hole in what is to be the bottom section of the Hab, for trapped air to escape as you try to push the cemented pieces together. If you fail to do this, you will end up with a miss-assembled piece that cannot be salvaged.

For windows, we used some 1/2" round stickers we had on hand. To get the placement right, we chose the hexagon tool in our paint program and printed out a hexagon that would fit across the top of each cap, and marked with pencil the points of the hexagon as a guide for placement of the (6) windows (and 6 legs)

An old oval aluminum dog tag was bent carefully to fit the curved side of the Hab, to represent the door-hatch. We did not bother to add porch or ladder or lettering.

For legs, we took some surplus drapery hooks and bent them into shape, drilling holes in the side of the Hab, spray painted them, and cementing them in place with super glue.

We located an appropriately sized cubic box to hold our assembled Hab for storage and safe transport. (Gluing it to the diorama base would only be asking for trouble!)

Diorama - we sized this to fit in the same box that holds the storyboard

We cut a piece of 3/4" styrofoam board (the kind commonly used for basement wall insulation). This we mounted to a lightweight base. You could use a thin sheet of plywood. We happened to have a convenient size scrap hollow core closet bifold door panel only 1" thick.

To texture it, we did three things

  • Carved out some "crater" depressions using a steak knife
  • Smoothed the crater edges and made some larger lower areas by using a steam iron (without the steam) on high setting. Do practice on a scrap piece of foam until you have the hang of what you can do with the iron.
  • Used a spray rust oxide primer over the surface. This will cause small corrosion pits in the foam, giving a realistic texture.
  • Over-painted with a deliberately uneven coat of beige Zynolyte Flec-it Spray or Krylon Make-It-Stone Spray

We added a couple of "boulders", using lightweight rust colored lave rocks used for mulching around plant beds

We took a big chunk of styrofoam packing saved from some electronics box and shaped it into a larger rock mass to one side to add that "geological flavor"

Then we edged the diorama with some leftover 1/4" paneling scraps we had on hand, cutting them to an appropriate height, and affixing them to the wood base that underlies the foam sheet. The photos at the bottom of the storyboard center panel act as an appropriate backdrop.

For further information on the WMS M.A.R.S. Hab diorama or storyboard, contact Peter Kokh

More recent and complete set of instructions on Making a Moonscape or Marscape