This fascinating show offers close encounters with an actual Mars rover, footage from the planet’s surface – and ambitious plans for inhabiting it, should the need arise
The Design Museum’s show is both a picture of a human idea and a sampling of intense human ingenuity. It starts with some of the speculation and fiction that the fourth planet from the sun has inspired. It shows, with the help of life-size mockups, proposals by the design company Hassell to get swarms of 3D-printing robots to build anti-radiation shelters out of regolith (the loose material of stones and dust on the surface of Mars) under which inflatable habitations could be inserted.
Fiction and science often come closely entwined, as in the vivid paintings with which the architecturally trained Chesley Bonestell brought to life proposals for Mars travel by Wernher von Braun, the man who moved from designing V2 missiles for Hitler to moon rockets for Nasa. The Design Museum, keen to mount an exhibition that might otherwise seem better suited to the Science Museum, is at pains to stress the human and the cultural, as well as the purely technical, aspects of the subject.
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