2018 – Que Sera! Smart World: What Mars Can Teach Us.

13. Xyna Conference  21.11.2018 at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden

Learning from Mars for Earth

13th Xyna conference looks at Mars colonies, digitized construction and decentralized power supply

Mainz/Wiesbaden - What could human life on Mars look like - and what can we learn from such a scenario for our world today? Under the motto "Que sera, Smart World - What Mars can teach us", this year's Xyna conference of the Mainz-based GIP Research Institute took place on November 21, 2018. More than 270 guests, mainly from the telecommunications and IT industries, met at the Wiesbaden Kurhaus to discuss related issues. "The extreme requirements for human life on Mars are an incentive to think radically about innovative software and IT solutions for Earth," said GIP board member Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser, describing his motivation. Prominent ex-astronaut Ulrich Walter provided impulses on the topic.

Scientific astronaut Prof. Dr. Ulrich Walter enthused the audience.

"The Future of Humanity in the Cosmos and How We Can Live on Mars".

Colonies in space

Ulrich Walter, now Professor of Astronautics at the Technical University of Munich, gave the audience a fascinating outlook on the future of man in space. In his view, there are two reasons for colonizing Mars: The search for evidence of life and the use of Mars as a stepping stone for further colonization of space. Because our neighboring planet is extremely cold and its atmosphere contains no oxygen, human settlers would have to live under hermetically sealed domes in an initial phase. "Research is already underway on methods to extract oxygen and fuel from the Martian soil for such settlements," Walter explained. But settlers, the space scientist said, would not want to live permanently under domes, but would want to move freely around the planet.

Therefore, in a second phase, one would begin to transform Mars into a planet that is life-friendly for humans through so-called "terraforming." Researchers have already developed concrete plans for this. First, a powerful greenhouse gas (perfluorocarbon) would be introduced into the Martian atmosphere. This would warm up and cause large quantities of frozen carbon dioxide, which is stored at the Martian poles, to change into a gaseous state. After about 40 years, Mars would have an atmosphere of pure carbon dioxide - also a greenhouse gas that would continue to drive warming. About 100 years later, the temperature would have risen to 0 degrees Celsius, and ice found in the Martian soil would thaw. The water could be used to grow plants, which in turn would produce enough oxygen over the course of 500 or 1000 years for humans to breathe Martian air. In a few thousand years - according to the vision of some scientists - there could even be cities on Mars.

From Mars, humans could eventually set out to colonize planets outside our solar system. However, future settlers would have to limit themselves to our own galaxy, because all others are too far away. But even within our galaxy, the journey to another star would take several hundred years. According to Walter, such distances could be overcome - for example, in 30-kilometer-long "generation ships" that could accommodate entire cities.

Big rush on the Xyna Holo Deck.

Mars Habitat Modelling in Virtual Environment

Digitalized construction

From the distant future, the next lecture brought us back to the present. "Digital Design and Manufacturing" was the topic of Klaus Teltenkötter, architect and professor of digital design at Mainz University of Applied Sciences. He reported on enormous advances that have taken place in this field in recent years. Robots could now brick houses, and do so without pause, while being more individual and precise than humans. "The robot can already build houses even where you yourself don't want to go until later," Teltenkötter said, referring to a possible settlement on Mars. Some experts believe that in as little as 15 years, building with robots will become the industry standard. Computer-controlled drones could also change construction. At the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, scientists are currently experimenting with drones that build bridges in a swarm.

The digital transformation in the construction industry will also be helped by so-called 3-D printers - computer-controlled devices that apply a material layer by layer to create three-dimensional objects. Large-format devices of this kind are now being used to build houses from a variety of materials, such as clay or straw-based raw materials. 3-D printers, Teltenkötter said, could also contribute to the upcycling of plastic waste by using plastics shredded into small pieces as the starting material for new objects. Digitization is also changing the external shape of houses, he said, which - if designed by computer - would turn out round rather than square. "Completely new possibilities are currently emerging in the field of digital design and construction," Teltenkötter summarized.

Full house

It was an honor to welcome so many great guests.

Martian power supply

From the thought experiment of a Martian settlement, GIP president Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser derived requirements for a power supply system suitable for Mars. "Reduce to the max" is the guiding principle here: the system would have to consume little energy, function without being connected to a terrestrial data center, and be autonomous, self-organized and intelligent. It would have to contain sensors that guarantee high data quality, actuators, especially power electronics, sufficient computing power and the ability to communicate with the various components.

The decentralized power grid "Quantum Grid" developed by GIP meets all these requirements. Analogous to the Internet, small power packets here find their way through the lines independently - even in areas with different voltage or frequency. Special routers are located at certain network nodes in the Quantum Grid that link subnetworks with the same voltage and frequency to other areas. Because the Quantum Grid no longer requires central control, it would be open to even the smallest energy producers. "On Mars, this could be solar panels on the ground or satellites that send down energy by laser or microwave," Reifenhäuser explained. 

On Earth, such a network would be ideal for regions where there are hardly any reliable power grids, for example in Africa. Under the motto "Martian Digitalization," the GIP Research Institute is currently setting up a future laboratory in which the power supply of the future will be simulated and tested.

In his closing presentation, Dr. Alexander Ebbes, Vice President of the GIP Research Institute, introduced a new GIP platform called Xyna Phi.

The GIP was on Mars 5 days before NASA!

Holodeck to Mars: 21.11.2018 // Mars InSight Mission: 26.11.2018

Mars in the holodeck

Between the sessions, visitors had the opportunity to move around a virtual world on Mars in a so-called "holodeck" - the name comes from the science fiction series Star Trek. With the data goggles on their heads, the visitors dived deep into the Martian reality and were able to change it themselves. Using a special tool, visitors were able to design their own habitat out of Martian rock. It was also possible to "beam" to three different locations on Mars. The holodeck, originally developed as part of a research project at Mainz University of Applied Sciences, was very well received and was constantly besieged by visitors.

Various workshops, including a creative workshop on the topic of "Smart World 2050", completed the program, which ended in the evening with the traditional Xyna party.

Xyna Conference 2018 Agenda & Speakers

  • 14:00 – 14:30

    Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser
    President, GIP Research Institute
    Smart World: Was können wir vom Mars lernen um mit smarten Technologien für die Heißzeit gewappnet zu sein?

  • 14:30 – 15:00

    Prof. Dr. Ulrich Walter
    Science Astronaut, TU Munich
    Die Zukunft der Menschheit im Kosmos und wie wir auf dem Mars leben können

  • 15:00 – 17:00

    Xyna Café
    Xyna Holo-Deck: Virtual visit to Mars: build your own habitat! // Xyna Demos // Meet Prof. Dr. Ulrich Walter // Ideas Conference // coffee & cake

  • 17:00 – 17:30

    Prof. Klaus Teltenkötter
    Mainz University of Applied Sciences
    Digitalisierung im Bereich der Gestaltung

  • 17:30 – 18:00

    Dr. Alexander Ebbes & Dr. Bernd Reifenhäuser
    GIP Exyr GmbH
    Xyna Phi for a Smart World

  • 18:00

    Xyna Party
    Dinner-Buffet & Drinks @ Xyna Holo-Deck

XK2018 Review - Video

A review of the Xyna Conference 2018 of the GIP Research Institute on 21.11.2018 at the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden.

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