Survivor: Mars Lava Tubes

2015 Challenge

Create Project Solving this Challenge

  • Hashtags:

    #humans, #marslavatubes, #easy


    [email protected]


    Model, Imagery, Platform, Data Visualization


    Just annouced: Google Hangout for the Survivor: Mars Lava Tubes with NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) subject matter experts (SMEs). Click here for details.


    Lava tubes are the result of differential cooling of lava flow during volcanic activity. They have been found on the Earth, Mars, and the Moon; they are suspected to be present on more Solar System bodies. Over 20 lava tubes exist in Hawaii.

    Lava tubes are formed when the upper layer of lava flowing from a volcano starts to cool while the lava underneath continues to flow in tubular channels. The hardened lava above insulates the molten lava below, allowing it to retain its liquid warmth and continue flowing. Lava tubes are found on Earth and can vary from a simple tube to a complex labyrinth that extends for miles. If the tunnels leading off the skylights have stood the test of time and are still open, they could someday provide human visitors protection from incoming meteoroids and other perils.

    Orbital imagery, along with other satellite data, can be used to identify lava tubes. Members of the public have found them. Data also provides maps of surface resources such as water and various minerals.

    “Massless Exploration” involves using local resources to manufacture what is needed to drastically reduce the mass of supplies required for space exploration. It involves developing self-sustaining end-to-end local manufacturing systems that produce many times more mass of goods than the mass of the system itself. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) enables Massless Exploration, which enables new architectures for exploring space including the Bootstrapping of Space Industry.

    Some of the resources that might be available in Mars lava tubes:

    • Water for drinking, growing food, and extracting oxygen and hydrogen for air and fuel
    • Minerals/metals in the regolith that can be processed for advanced manufacturing of 3D printed parts and structures to build and maintain habitats


    Develop a game allowing players to explore lava tubes on Mars. Astronauts might one day use lava tubes for shelter from dust storms and space radiation, which are dangerous hazards on Mars. The lava tubes can also be used for exploring underground access to resources. The game could be searching for lava tubes with real data and/or building a simulated community within the lava tubes highly dependent on local resources. The challenge in developing this Space App will be in learning about lava tubes, how to access and utilize NASA’s Mars datasets, and how a future Martian might survive with minimal to no resupply from Earth via Massless Exploration.


    Two game aspects that could be included are below, along with ideas on how games could be structured.

    Create a virtual city within the lava tubes
    • Players construct habitats in the lava tubes and acquire resources to survive on Mars without having to call for help
    • Different lava tubes have different possibilities. Some parameter values that could vary for each lava tube
      • Size/volume of lava tube
      • Mass of each available resource
      • Location on Mars and the accessibility to spacecraft coming from Earth
        • Locations could be based on location of actual lava tubes
    • Players have a selection of resources they can bring from Earth to Mars, but have a mass limit; they could also be rewarded for reducing their upmass even further
    • Players are rewarded for utilizing as much of the available local resources on Mars as possible
    • Certain resources may expire within a time period, so players have to think about what their needs are now and what they’ll need for the future
    • Example goals
      • Survive a one year Mars mission by constructing a self-sustaining community for ten people
      • Construct a self-sustaining community that decreases its annual upmass from Earth each year even as its population grows
      • Construct a self-sustaining community that decreases its annual use of available resources each year even as its population grows

    Use NASA’s public orbiter images to search for lava tubes locations (skylights)
    • Develop new tools or provide the user access to already available systems for searching for lava tubes
    • Players are given access to high-resolution orbiter images of Mars from NASA’s public databases that the can use to locate lava tube sites and identify the locations of specific mineral and water resources
    • Interesting findings are recorded and published for public viewing. Players can compare to findings by NASA and other users
    • Players can learn
      • Where lava tubes on Mars are located
      • How to identify lava tube features in an image taken by an orbiting spacecraft
      • How to determine the physical location of lava tubes on the surface of Mars
      • How to use multiple types of orbiter image data to detect the locations of water, minerals and metals on Mars

    Sample Resources(Participants do not have to use these resources, and NASA in no way endorses any particular entity listed).

  • The following projects are solving this challenge:

    • Life On Mars

    • Running Mars

      We are developing a videogame to teach people about space, Mars, lava tube, how to survive under Mars condition, and helping NASA whit other projects. Visit Project

    • Oxygenation process to the surface of mars

      Creation of artificial oxygen by removing carbón dióxide and other tóxic minerals in the atmosphere of the planet surface. Diet high in potassium for fluid retention in the body. Visit Project

    • Survive in Mars

      Is an educational video game in which you have to survive and create a colony in mars, it is based on data provided by the NASA. It is going to be a realistic video game. Visit Project

    • Civilization On Mars: The Survivor

      A survival civilization game looking to save the earth by gathering resources from the different lava tubes in Mars, adjusting your objectives by briefings with most important heads of the Earth, building a sustainable human civilization. Visit Project

    • SimulationSurvivalGame

      The main goal is to provide a medium for which people can learn about the conditions on Mars and what is required to build a colony for humans to survive there. Lava tubes have been identified as a suitable shelter that could provide some resources for humans. Information such as this and real da... Visit Project

    • Lavamatic

      When we first heard of this challenge, we weren't aware of what a lava tube is and thought it was the same for most people. So we decided to make an accessible game, easy to play, but efficient in transmitting information. The Game ========= Y... Visit Project

    • Homesteading the Red Planet

      Los viajes interplanetarios con las naves actuales, no permiten portar en ellas muchos recursos, por la limitación en el peso y en el volumen. El proyecto consiste en llevar los menores recursos posibles en la nave y poder asentar la bases de una nueva civilización en los cuevas de Marte. ... Visit Project

    • Mars Village

      A human mission to Mars has been the subject of science fiction, engineering, and scientific proposals throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. NASA is already working on project to send people to live on Mars! Mars is much like the Earth - it is wonderful, but also dangerous. The... Visit Project

    • Mars: The First Colony

      We want to make a game that puts the player in the position of the first mars explorer, and you are tasked to find the resources you need to survive and wait for the first supply drop. Fight against the weather, mine exotic minerals unknown to man on earth, and thrive to create the first successf... Visit Project

    • Lava Tube

      Designing and building a simulation for a self sustaining outpost on mars within lava tubes. Visit Project

    • Mars One (and a half)

      - Explore the planet - Discover points of interest (crater, lava tubes, ...) - Survive managing your resources Visit Project

    • Life on planet mars

      Life on Mars is an educational management game. The main goal is to survive in a simulated human colony on Mars. The base is hypotetically situated in big natural tunnels formed by flowing multi-layered lava over time which are called lavatubes. Managing the base, try to survive one year on ... Visit Project

    • Survivor: Mars Lava Tubes by ZAFT

      Lisa Anderson is an astronaut on a mars exploration mission. Lisa is in danger of running out of oxygen. Dust storms and space radiation is seen approaching in the horizon. Help her get back to safety by using the lava tube to get back to her ship safely! Our goals are to entice and create i... Visit Project

    • The Mars Endeavour: Lava Tubes

      Ten astronauts, five rovers, limited supplies and fuel. Explore Mars's lava tubes and develop a self-sustaining colony for future emigrates of Earth. Win achievements for surviving perils, mining ore and ice, building infrastructure and conducting successful science experiments. Built by careful ... Visit Project

    • Tethers

      This game is an abstraction of the exploration and surveying of the Mars lava tubes with tethered rovers. The goal is to find a tunnel without getting your rover stuck and having to return to the surface. Some of these tunnels will contain the resources needed to explore and inhabit Mars, which a... Visit Project

    • Mars Invaders

      We want gamers and scientists to be able to use nasa data to perform a better gaming experience. Visit Project

    • One year on Mars

      The simulation game aims to transform into an extensible, powerful simulation system of the Martian environment, weather, and to give the possibility to astronauts and investigators to plan strategies and to have a more clear paradigm of what they will see there. It wants to achieve an auto-upd... Visit Project

    • Surviving in marts

      Videojuego educativo que reta al jugador a lograr la sobrevivencia de una comunidad humana en las ásperas condiciones de hábitat de Marte, a través del reconocimiento de los túneles con las condiciones apropiadas identificadas por la NASA y la administración eficiente de recursos limitados. P... Visit Project

    • Mars Scout

      Our team wants everybody living on Earth to be able to experience a life time simulation inside a lava tube , familiarizing with such natural formation on Mars, the story begins on a space ship in which a dangerous event occur that let the player leave the spaceship with important resources that ... Visit Project

    • Mars Base One

      Mars Base One is a 2D game based on the Unity Game Engine and inspired by games like Terraria. In this game the player has to find a lava tube and then look for resources in it and build a base to protect from radiation, sand storms and have a place to take out his helmet. Bases can be bigger and... Visit Project

    • Space Hunters: Mars Exploration

      Space Hunters: Mars Exploration is a tile-based set of puzzles where players identify distinctive features on Martian surfaces such as lava tubes, lava channels, craters and volcanoes. Each puzzle is shown the player one tile at a time, where each tile is chosen at random. To successfully complet... Visit Project

    • Crashed: Survival on Mars

      Our project aims to achieve a simulation of a colony on Mars inside a lava tube. This could be useful for planning an expedition to Mars and the colony could be mapped out like in the game. In addition, it could also educate people about how it would be like on Mars, and it could provide a simula... Visit Project

    • Humans On Mars

      To solve this challenge we created a game (a simulator) which allows players to move freely and explore a specific location on Mars and its environment but also the lava tubes beneath the surface. This location is chosen randomly from a real heightmap taken from Mars (image taken from Mars MOLA D... Visit Project

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