The Metaverse on Mars
Welcome to the first self-sufficient digital City on Mars
Onteco is the term in Esperanto that creates the concept of "future". Esperanto was invented as a language to unite all cultures.
Life on Mars will be a melting pot of people where borders will not exist. Onteco represents a near future where humans from all backgrounds live in self sufficient and sustainable cities on Mars.
Modular and scalable systems are implemented in cliffs to create a vertical city protected from the Martian atmosphere.
The permanent settlement is inside a cliff on Mars to build a vertical city. The design and construction systems are a result of the planet's harsh conditions. "If we were to construct the buildings as on Earth, the buildings would tend to explode from the pressure. The solar and gamma radiation on Mars forced us to build spaces that are not directly exposed to the sky", says Alfredo Muñoz, from the international architectural and urban design firm that headed the design of the City.
The Solution is a flexible and scalable model that could be easily applicable in many other Martian surface areas. In the design for this Martian City, the architects faced defining structures that would guarantee a habitat suitable for humans and other forms of organic life. Working multidisciplinary scientists, the architects came up with solutions to create structures that protect inhabitants from the radiation on Mars, ensure indirect access to sunlight, protect from potential impact from meteorites, and solve the atmospheric pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the buildings.
The urban configuration also considered the life support systems, such as food, air, and water production.
What is Onteco?
Onteco™ is a digital twin of the first self-sufficient vertical city on Mars. The technical solutions and the science behind Onteco offer highly scalable solutions for any future off-world settlement. We think that those solutions can be a roadmap on sustainable ways to create permanent habitats on Mars.
The City accommodates 100,000 people and is in a riverbed at the ancient Martian ocean shore. It has access to water, mild temperatures, and a geological condition suitable for tunnel habitats inside a cliff.
How does a Mars City Grow?
The Martian city exponentially accommodates its population. After an initial short period of capital investment and supply from Earth, this urban development on Mars maintains and grows by its means and sustainable manner.
As scalability was a critical factor for the design, we wanted to create a solution that could be built quickly. The excavated habitats and the modularity make it possible to achieve suitable spaces with low-impact materials and rapid construction. The concepts of scalability and diversity were critical for the design team and the scientists at SONet when conceptualizing the city. Modularity achieves both goals, as few elements can create a myriad of configurations.
How is the Urban Solution?
The City is on the slope of one of the Martian cliffs with abundant water access. A steep terrain offers the opportunity to create a vertical city inserted into the rock, protected from radiation and exposed to indirect sunlight.
The "Macro-buildings" are excavations inside the rock of the Cliff. These constructions, implemented after tunneling, are modular and include residential and work activities linked together by a three-dimensional network of tunnels.
All modules include green areas and urban gardens, and spaces dedicated to art. The urban gardens are small community parks with animals and bodies of water designed to provide physical well-being.
The modules have a tubular shape of 14 meters in diameter. Different residential and work modules provide a highly flexible and scalable opportunity by recombining the modules as needed. By giving this standardization, the design ensures scalability and reduces complexity, costs, and construction schedules.
The design includes vast, artificially created natural spaces to create an emotional linkage with Earth. They are named "Green-Domes," and there are two types: those that allow human presence and act as parks, and those that include experimental vegetation in an environment with a purely Martian atmosphere.
How are the Martian Buildings?
The architectural Solution provides safe spaces while allowing for indirect light to access the habitats, which is critical for humans' long-term well-being. In addition, the excavated Solution reduces the materials required to accommodate a large amount of population.
The excavated vertical City offers many advantages over solutions on the surface, which need thick and opaque skin to effectively and economically protect the inside from radiation and micrometeorites. Materials like glass or polymers will not be economical to manufacture on Mars if they provide the required protection.
Additionally, on Mars, the most significant structural challenge of a building is not gravity but internal pressure. On the red planet, buildings can explode because of the atmospheric pressure difference between the inside and the outside. It is similar to how a balloon would explode after inflating it too much. Also, the bigger the building, the highest the inner pressure. Therefore, dome-like structures, especially if they are big, would require a lot of structural material to prevent the building from exploding.
Finally, Mars is very cold. Even in the warmer areas, the temperatures are similar to Antarctica. Therefore, in buildings located on the surface, the thermal losses, and energy needed to ensure inner comfort would not be sustainable or economical.
The settlement configuration as a vertical cliff city effectively solves many of the critical problems on Mars, as it protects its inhabitants from deadly radiation, impacts from micrometeorites, and extreme temperature changes. The Cliff's rock absorbs the atmospheric pressure from the inside spaces and the thermal losses due to the cold temperatures.
A "Macro-building" is the primary architectural unit and comprises ten different "modular solutions." However, each Macro-building is entirely different from the others, and each accommodates 2,000 people. The entire vertical City accommodates 100,000 people, but it is resolved with only ten unique modules. These building modules consist of an intricate net of three-dimensional fourteen-meter diameter tunnels that go as deep as 120 meters into the Cliff.
The Macro-buildings inside the Cliff are self-sufficient, and most of the inhabitants do not need to leave them to perform their daily activities unless desired. They function similarly to a giant mixed-use skyscraper on Earth where all the day-to-day activities can happen inside the building.
However, the City also offers larger communal areas at the Valley of the Cliff. This area includes dome structures and large tunnels to house hospitals, schools and universities, sports and cultural activities, shopping areas, and train stations that communicate with the space shuttle. The domes at the Valley are transparent to provide a visual relationship with the martian landscape and are protected from radiation and meteorites with large canopies that fly over the structures. These domes act as city parks and as artificially-lighted greenhouses that include lush greenery and water, creating diverse ecosystems. These provide space for large gatherings and also make the ideal environment for the farmed animals to flourish.
The Valley also includes an artificial mountain created with additional material extracted from Cliff's excavations as a visual frame for the City and to protect it from dust storms. This artificial mountain also includes auxiliary energy systems, storage, parking for rovers, and intra-city trucks.
At the Mesa, located at the top of the Cliff, the City includes the areas related to energy production. Those areas are not accessible to humans without the proper life support and protection equipment.
How is the Life-Support infrastructure?
In addition to buildings to live, work, educate, and facilitate social interactions, Mars also requires structures to fulfill the essential functions of air, water, and food production.
In the Cliff-City, all the architectural constructions include additional safety aspects to regulate the internal atmospheric pressure and offer refuge zones for emergency cases. Several common spaces act as firebreaks and shelters for citizens until rescue units arrive.
Air showers have been placed at each "Macro-building" entrance to clean and sterilize as health protection measures. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also play an essential role in building standards to help maintain optimal conditions and minimize risks.
How is the transportation on Mars?
Inside the City, there are two transportation systems. The primary strategy consists of a high-speed elevator system that connects the Valley, the individual lobbies to the Macro-buildings, and the Mesa. The system is similar to the communication strategy in super-skyscrapers on Earth, where we have sky lobbies that provide access to slower elevators. In the case of the Cliff-City, such intermediate halls have pressurized areas and air showers that precede entry to each Macro-building's independent vertical communication systems.
The secondary communication inside the City is horizontal and is a light rail. The train connects the larger spaces at the Valley and the lower floors of the vertical transportation system.
How is the Martian diet?
The diet on Mars is expected to be entirely vegetarian. The lack of consumption of meat predicted in the Martian diet is due to the high energy required for livestock farming, which would not be viable or sustainable in the red planet's conditions.
There are many reasons for it. One of them is that the amount of energy required to feed the animals will be too high to provide the same amount of energy that humans need. At the same time, space is very costly on mars because we have to manufacture air. So as the amount of space required for animals is way too high, eating them is not efficient.
Crops would be grown in agricultural modules with a CO2-enriched environment, which will not be breathable for humans. As a result, the operational tasks in these facilities will be automated.
To increase the crops' efficiency, the City includes a hydroponic system that requires less water and space than other methods based on crops. The production of algae and bacteria for waste processing is also completed in this sector.
Small animals and insects have been located inside the Macro-buildings and at the Valley, close to communal city areas, as they need a human-like atmosphere to live. The "Green Domes" and the urban gardens inside the Cliff are also habitats for some animals, which are not part of the diet but play a critical psychological role for the Martians.
How much space does the Martian City have?
The total built-up area of the City is 55.6 million m2, which is equivalent to 278 m2 per person, where 162 m2 are related to spaces suitable for humans and the rest are for supporting areas. Each person has a private pod that consists of 25m2. The rest of the ambiances on Mars are communal to the rest of the citizens.
On Earth, Manhattan, with a peak of 2 million people per day, has approximately 260 million m2, including buildings, related civil infrastructure, and breathable outdoor areas, like streets and parks. Therefore, a highly dense urban development like the “Big-Apple” can be associated with approximately 130 m2 per person. This area does not include all the required spaces for agriculture, industrial, and energy production, which, on Earth, would be substantially higher than the 116 m2 per person required in the Cliff-City and are usually not situated within the urban areas. For example, for agricultural purposes (both for direct human consumption and livestock), over 6,000 m2 per person are used on Earth.
Regarding the volume of space built, the Martian City provides 1,690 m3 per person, which contrasts, as a qualitative reference, with the ISS that has a habitable volume of 65 m3 per person.
What are the Materials used in the Martian City?
In addition, materials like glass or polymers will not be economical to manufacture on Mars.
To provide a feasible solution, we can not bring materials from Earth because the amount of energy associated with that scenario is not realistic. Consequently, if a city is supposed to develop autonomously and self-sufficiently, all systems, parts, buildings, and city services need to build from local resources only. Therefore, almost all the materials required for the Cliff-City are obtained on Mars by processing Carbon and other minerals.
How is the Martian Society?
We imagine a martian society very dependent on the community. Living on such a hostile planet will force its citizens to overcome the traditional duality of me (self) and them (community). To keep the population alive, each city member will have to rely on the other people around them.
Mars will probably enhance a change in understanding the relationship between humans and their environment. On Earth, we are used to modifying the context to our particular needs. However, on Mars, we cannot quickly adapt the environment to our comfort but are forced to adapt ourselves to the planet. This new reality might lead to higher respect for what Mars offers, ensuring the deeper relationship between the individual, the community, and the environment.
What are the main challenges of living on Mars?
The biggest challenge with building on the surface of the red planet is that to effectively and economically protect from radiation and micrometeorites, the buildings' skin needs to be thick and opaque.
Furthermore, on Mars, the most significant structural challenge of a building is not gravity but internal pressure. On the red planet, buildings can explode because of the atmospheric pressure difference between the inside (1 atmospheric pressure) and the outside (almost no pressure). It's similar to a balloon that explodes after inflating it too much. Therefore, dome-like structures require a lot of structural material to prevent the building from exploding. For small buildings, this is not a terrible challenge because the design can absorb the pressure. Still, the more ample space, the tension grows exponentially. As a result, on-the-ground buildings are not reasonable to accommodate a large population, as the amount of material associated with their structure would be vast and expensive.
Finally, the temperature on Mars varies substantially between the day and the night. Even during the warm days, the temperatures are similar to Antarctica. Therefore, the thermal losses in building on the surface will be huge, and the amount of energy required to ensure inner comfort would not be sustainable or economical.
The excavated Solution inside a cliff of Onteco protects from radiation and meteorites. The rock absorbs the atmospheric pressure from inside and provides thermal inertia to avoid temperature losses. Due to its configuration inside a cliff, the Solution also offers indirect light, which is essential for the long-term well-being of its inhabitants.
What is the Timeline of construction of the City on Mars?
There are critical paths associated with the beginning of the city's construction. Steel is the most used material, obtained through processing water and CO2. Detailed analysis and scalable testing must be performed on Earth. Additionally, the technology of manufacturing large volumes of oxygen needs to develop, and thankfully, MOXIE and the Perseverance are already bringing insights about it.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence will be essential tools for constructing a permanent settlement. If the industry keeps up its current growth, it could start being used on Mars in two or three decades. While the technology to create 14-meter-diameter-tunnels is similar to such available nowadays, an on-the-ground geotechnical analysis will be required, ideally by actual astronauts on the red planet. Finally, the City could not fully operate if the rocket's technology to transport so many people is not available.
Considering all of the previous challenges, and based on when Elon Musk shared that Space X could send the first humans to the red planet, we estimate that a cliff-city on Mars could technically start construction by 2054. If that is the case, and thanks to its scalable design, it could be finished by 2100. In any case, this estimate depends on many variables, including the mentioned challenges and other requirements associated with having the proper funding and will.
As the Cliff-City is conceptualized as a permanent city where people will live and die, we need to ensure that its implementation is not only about safety and speed. We need to provide citizens with the right psychological and architectural environment to have a fulfilling and enriching life.
How is Lifestyle on Mars?
Mars immigrants are typically in their 30s. Most of the work would be related to technical and management tasks associated with the City's operations, mining, and production of food, goods, and energy.
Although robotics and artificial intelligence would perform the most intensive work, such technology will need to be coordinated and managed correctly. Although it is still too early to identify the exact amount of work hours, living in an extremely harsh environment like Mars will be far from a long holiday or an early retirement. We also envision Arts and self-expression as a critical aspect of society and live on Mars.
How is Traveling between Earth and Mars?
Sending people to Mars would require complex logistics and a vast improvement in the rocket industry. Therefore, today, the vision is to have only single-way trips to Mars, which means that the citizens will not be able to come back to Earth once they settle on Mars.
A colony on Mars could expand what humans are as a species, but there are very few people going to go to mars. So all of this should be taken as a learning opportunity to make Earth a better place. Some people ask, why are we not solving the problems on Earth before we go to mars? But we can do both. By solving one need, we are getting information about how to solve the other. In that sense, it is fascinating and inspiring what can happen in the years ahead.
What is unique in the Martian City?
Permanent habitats on the Moon that are self-sufficient would be challenging, including the lack of water and critical minerals. On the other hand, Mars offers the right resources to create a fully sustainable settlement.
Some past solutions for habitats on Mars propose exciting buildings on the surface of the red planet. The challenge with these solutions is that to protect effectively and long-term from radiation, the buildings' skin needs to be thick and opaque. Additionally, the pressure difference between the inside and the outside requires structures that prevent the building from exploding. For small buildings, this is not a terrible challenge because the design can absorb the pressure. Still, the more ample space, the tension grows exponentially. As a result, on-the-ground building is not reasonable to accommodate a large population, as the amount of material associated with their structure would be vast and expensive.
Alternative past solutions on Mars are underground, located inside lava tubes or craters. Such building configurations might provide a more efficient and safe technical solution than those on the surface. However, access to light is essential for humans' phycological well-being, and spending long-term underground might not be the ideal Solution.
The Cliff-City is located in the northern hemisphere and is excavated on a one-kilometer-height cliff oriented to the south. The tunnels that comprise the vertical City are interconnected three-dimensionally. Those tunnels extend towards the Cliff's wall, bringing indirect light and creating buffer spaces for the community to thrive and socialize. Being inside the Cliff protects from radiation and meteorites. The rock absorbs the one-atmospheric pressure from inside and provides the thermal inertia to avoid temperature losses, as the outside can be below 100 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, cliffs have a compact geological composition, ideal for creating tunnels, which is an essential difference from other locations, such as craters. The geological condition of some Martian cliffs allows a compact city. Density is critical on Mars as every square meter is costly. Reducing the space required for infrastructure, logistics, and inter-city transportation are of utmost importance on Mars. The location of the City inside a cliff ensures such space is minimized. Finally, the cliffs have a mesa at the top that is usually relatively flat, which is ideal for locating the vast areas required for the generation of energy and food.
In summary, Onteco offers for the first time a roadmap on an "economical" solution to create permanent settlements on Mars that make exciting diversity and identity for its communities, and that is self-sufficient and sustainable.
What are NFT's?
Onteco implements Clean NFT's [Non-Fungible-Token] that are data packages that certify ownership and where each creator has defined what it represents. They work with blockchain technology, the same as cryptocurrencies. Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are a record stored in a shared ledger that is almost impossible to crack because that ledger is maintained by thousands of computers worldwide.
The key to this technology is "smart contracts" or consensus: "it is true if everyone keeps the same information." Blockchain applies to any transaction that requires verification. NFTs are special because each represents something unique, distinguishing them from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, which are exchangeable - fungible.
The uniqueness is why NFTs, or nifties, are applied to digital content. The the most significant interest today is collecting digital art as it offers a more secure and valuable type of ownership. Like anything published on the Internet, crypto art can be easily copied with a screenshot or a video. But with an NFT, the owner purchases a verified token that provides digital proof that the art piece is theirs. It could be considered like an artist's signature.
When you buy an NFT, it doesn't mean you get the copyright. Instead, it means you own the metadata that guarantees ownership, or more often, the opportunity to be able to sell it later for more money. In addition to the ownership, its creator may include conditions, permissions, or licenses on the token.
Onteco™ provides new ways to share memorable stories and to experience the future on Mars.
We aim to lead new solutions for the metaverse ecosystem and the digital art world. Our multidisciplinary team of designers, architects, and engineers work closely to create magical software that communicates real-time with the users.
Our determination to merge innovation in architectural spaces, software and immersive simulations has led us to develop 3D interactive environments that we envision can comprise a valuable part of a future Metaverse on Mars.
Please contact us at [email protected] for more details.