The Life Support Unit is a Lander rigged with extra technologies which capitalize on the natural resources available on Mars. It uses these resources to create a habitable living environment for the astronauts, as follows:
- Electrical energy is generated through the application of thin film solar photovoltaic panels. These are flexible and can be rolled up for compact transportation to Mars.
- Potable water will be created through the heating of water ice in the local ground soil. About 60 kilograms of soil is loaded into a container within the Life Support Unit by the Rover and heated to evaporate the water. The water is condensed and the dry soil returned to its origin. A portion of the water is stored while a portion is used to produce oxygen. The Life Support Unit is able to collect 1500 liters water and 120 kilograms oxygen in 500 days time.
- Nitrogen and argon gas are extracted from the Mars atmosphere and injected into the habitable space as inert gases. Remember, 80% of what we breathe on Earth is the element nitrogen.
The Life Support Unit is connected to the Living Unit by a tube which feeds the oxygen, nitrogen, and argon to create a habitable atmosphere. Once the astronauts have landed, it will also be in charge of the water purification and removal of waste gas (carbon dioxide) from the Living Unit atmosphere.
The Life Support Unit is hosted inside a Lander. This system will be very similar to those units which are fully functional on-board the International Space Station.