The upcoming and the previous CHASM workshops

It is now only two weeks to the next CHASM workshop, but there’s still time to buy tickets. It takes place with Astrolands, an analogue habitat in Northern Spain situated deep in a cave system! Check it out:

But this post is about a visit to the analogue habitat during the previous CHASM workshop, LunAres in Poland. (You can also learn more about the workshop part here).

An analogue habitat is a space or building that attempts to recreate the experience of living on another moon or planet and exploring how this might be achieved and the problems they may face.

The LunAres analog was created in an airport hanger formerly used by the military. As we approached in the bus and even in the dark night we can still see that the building is built like a bunker.

Outside view of LunAres

But were we go inside it’s just an ordinary door. Here there’s a corridor which passes through different rooms and into the central area, a domed shaped space with comfortable beanbags scattered around, and two large screens. One of the screens can be used for either work or for entertainment. Some of us sit down and relax on the beanbags, looking up at the roof highlighted by the subtle lighting. It feels like a relaxing space, perhaps one we would look forward to coming back to after a hard days work outside on a planet surface.

Behind us, and off to the side is the other large screen. This one constantly shows readouts from the many sensors scattered throughout the habitat. It shows graphs and numbers for oxygen levels, carbon dioxide levels, electrical usage, pressures and temperatures. Imagine being in on another planet with a lack of atmosphere just meters away, a reassuring monitoring system like this might be just what you need to relax.

Then it was time for a space walk.

Just off the main area is an air lock. We go through and there’s a small storage space. A small rover sits on a table and several mock spacesuits hang on the wall. Once dressed in the spacesuits, a light would be lit to indicate the the airlock had been emptied and it was safe to proceed outside.

The second door opens for us and we are led out to a very spacious area used for outdoor training. But we are still undercover inside the hanger. The ground is covered in a think layer of small pebbles (perhaps similar to the Moon’s surface) and the space is covered with large tent material. Here various experiments can be conducted, from driving rovers remotely, to sleeping out in a spacesuit, to trying out different tools.

Back in the main room – space suit free – we start to explore the other rooms. They all come off the central area and each room is separated by large doors, and has it’s own specialisation. Those include the dormitory, a kitchen, a gym, sanitary, a biolab, a workshop and operations. Everything you would need for a base on another planet.

There are enough rooms for each person to be in one on their own. While we were there, and even though it was unusually crowded from the visitors, it never felt like you would have to be crammed in together, in fact the place seemed spacious. Usually the base has only a maximum occupancy of six.

The main hub and kitchen are great places to get together either to plan out the day’s work or to socialise at the end. The gym is obviously to keep fit, but maybe you could skip that on the particularly hard working days outside! Research can be done in the biolab, it’s currently growing rows of saplings. The workshop has lots of tools – you’d want to be able to fix anything and everything so far away, alone. Operations is where you’d type up your days work and research, and communicate with home.

And then it was time for us to head back to the bus. We were all very impressed.

But now the important bit. You too could participate in an analogue mission. LunAres is always looking for new people take part! See the links below for more info.

Thank LunAres for a great weekend.


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