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August 4, 2008

4Frontiers Corporation Awarded Florida Grant to Investigate
Mars Greenhouse Materials

TAMPA, FL– 4Frontiers Corporation, a NewSpace technology, entertainment & education company, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $25,000 research grant from the Florida Space Grant Consortium (FSGC), as part of the Florida Space Research & Education Grant Program.


This grant will assist 4Frontiers in pursuing its technology roadmap for Mars settlement technologies. The project’s goal is to study the performance of various transparent materials which have been selected as potential candidates for use in future Mars greenhouses. The research will involve the construction of small chambers that incorporate these materials, simulating a Mars greenhouse. The chambers will then be placed within a larger chamber which will simulate the environmental conditions found on the Martian surface. The project will investigate heat transfer and stress performance of these materials under the unique conditions specific to the red planet.


“The selection of appropriate materials, allowing maximum transmission of PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) while minimizing materials mass and maximizing longevity under Mars conditions is a key element of greenhouse design,” said 4Frontiers Vice President and co-Principal Investigator, Joseph E. Palaia, IV. 


“Physical stress is one aspect. However, there are different factors on the surface of Mars, the effects of which we need to understand. UV radiation, lower gravity and the atmospheric gases on Mars are very different compared to Earth,” said Alexander Stimpson, a graduate of the University of Florida’s Bioengineering Department and a summer intern at 4Frontiers who will assist with this research. 


The research apparatus will be designed and constructed by students in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville. Following initial testing there, the apparatus will be moved to an environmental chamber in the Space Life Sciences Lab (SLSL) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This chamber is capable of replicating many of the conditions found on the Martian surface including temperature, pressure and incident sunlight.


“If we think that we are going to go to Mars sometime in the future, we must start being realistic about the actual ways people might live there,” said Dr. Ray Bucklin, professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida and a Principal Investigator on the project. 


“This grant allows us to get our feet wet in this critical area of research, and, more importantly, gives us the opportunity to work with some highly skilled colleagues at UF and at the SLSL,” said Palaia. “We’re excited and ready to move forward.”

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The proposal for this research was titled, “Heat Transfer and Stress Investigations of Transparent Material Subjected to Internal Greenhouse Conditions in a Simulated Mars Surface Environment.” The Florida Space Research & Education Grant Program is administered by Florida Space Grant Consortium, Space Florida and the University of Central Florida.
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"There may be only a brief window of opportunity for space travel during which we will in principle have the capability to establish colonies (which could in turn establish further colonies). If we let that opportunity pass without taking advantage of it we will be doomed to remain on the Earth where we will eventually go extinct." - Richard Gott, "Implications of the Copernician Principle For Our Future Prospects," Nature, 1993
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