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Mars: Designing for the Red Planet

Join leading designers, scientists, engineers, theorists and innovators for a half-day symposium exploring the challenges of designing for Mars, in collaboration with Imperial College London.

What to expect

How can human-centred design enable us to adapt to the extreme environments of space? What can desert landscapes teach us about the dangers of extraction and colonisation of a new planet? Can designing for Mars offer us new tools to tackle the environmental challenges we face here on Earth?

Whilst humanity has been gazing at Mars for centuries, today human habitation of the planet is becoming a near-future possibility. But with an average temperature of -63˚C, low gravity that degrades bone, extreme radiation and the absence of oxygen, designing for the red-planet creates un-precedented challenges at the limits of human habitability. Creating zero waste-streams, closed-loop survival systems, and social spaces in extreme conditions are just a few of the ways every aspect of life on Mars will need to be re-imagined and re-designed.

In this one-day symposium, leading designers, scientists, engineers, theorists and innovators will explore how human and planet-centred design are playing a role in the greatest 21st century space challenge, and the lessons we can learn for design here on Earth.

Participants will also have access to the Design Museum’s current exhibition Moving to Mars, as a part of the symposium. Following the conference, participants are also invited to join the RAEBURN Late in the museum’s atrium.

Mars: Designing for the Red Planet is developed in partnership with Imperial College London.


The Body on Mars

How can design enable a human body to survive and thrive in the extreme environments of space? This panel considers the physical and psychological challenges Mars presents, and the role human-centred design can play in augmenting human bodies.

Martian Landscapes

What can we learn from the desolate landscapes of Earth and Mars, and how might they re-frame our relationship to both planets? This panel examines the parallel landscapes of the Atacoma Desert in Chile and the Martian surface to consider research methods, materials, and the politics of extraction.

Other Worlds

From space architecture to terraforming, what role might design play in the construction of new worlds on Mars? This panel explores the architecture of closed worlds, systems-thinking in design, and the ethics of human intervention on Mars.


Mars Futures

Contribute to a collective map of questions and possible futures in this drop-in workshop with designer Finn Strivens.

Free, no booking required.


Mars Make-A-Thon

Discover a selection of proto-types and displays from the second edition of the Created during the latest edition of Imperial College London Make-a-thon, which focused on the challenge of Moving to Mars.

Mars Materials

Explore the challenges for the production of food, fuel and materials on the red planet.

Booking information

Adult: £25
Student/concession: £15
Members: £20


Dr. Jonathan Eastwood

Dr. Jonathan Eastwood is director of the Imperial Space Lab network of excellence, and a senior lecturer in Physics in the space and atmospheric physics group. His primary research interest is space weather and how it affects modern society, and which also represents a major challenge to one day living and working on Mars.

Anna Talvi

Anna Talvi is a microgravity-wear designer working on how to keep astronauts fit and healthy when they are living in space for longer periods of time. Her work is a symbiosis of design, biomedical engineering and material science to tailor better spacesuits and microgravity wear for the astronauts.

Lydia Kallipoliti

Lydia Kallipoliti is an architect, engineer and scholar whose research focuses on the intersections of architecture, technology and environmental politics. She is an Assistant Professor at the Cooper Union in New York and the author of the awarded book The Architecture of Closed Worlds, Or, What is the Power of Shit (2018).

Professor Sanjeev Gupta

Professor Sanjeev Gupta is a geologist and planetary scientist. He is a Long Term Planner on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission, where his role is to determine if the Red Planet could ever have been habitable for life. He is heavily involved in the European ExoMars rover mission and the NASA Mars 2020 mission.

Mále Uribe Forés

Mále is a Chilean architect working at the intersection of art, architecture and interiors. With an MA in Information Experience Design from the RCA, and a professional background in spatial and exhibition design, she develops spatial narratives that communicate ideas about material culture in architecture. She is one of the Designers in Residence 2019 at the Design Museum.

Tom Pike

Tom Pike is Professor of Micro-engineering at Imperial College London, where his research focuses on the development of micro-instruments for space and terrestrial applications. He was part of the Mas Insight Team behind the Mars Phoenix Lander, a NASA probe sent to study the deep interior of Mars, which successfully landed there in November 2019.

related event


Join the RAEBURN team for an evening of activities inspired by the red planet. Activities include: A talk and a RÆBURN T-shirt Customisation workshop.

Related exhibition

Moving to Mars

Is the journey to the Red Planet one of the great challenges of our time? Through immersive recreations and new commissions, discover how every detail of this extraordinary mission must be designed.