TESSERAE Project: Innovative Tiles For Future Space Interventions

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Space is inevitable, yet a fresh field to explore when we question the future of human habitations. MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, founded by Ariel Ekblaw, dedicates research to an innovative approach to space architecture with a team consisting of artists, scientists, engineers, and designers.

Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures For The Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments, shortly TESSERAE Project, is the main project that the initiative works on the development of self-assembling, adaptive, and reconfigurable microstructures that might be very significant for future life in space.

To access Ariel Ekblaw’s speech on PAACADEMY, click the link for MARS Architecture Workshop.


TESSERAE structures are projected to be critical multi-functional, low-cost infrastructural modules for the future`s zero-gravity habitats, science labs, surface exploration grounds and so. Each TESSERAE structure is prototyped into hexagonal and pentagonal buckminsterfullerene tiles initially, focusing on reducing the payload weight and assembly complexity rather than the conventional methods for space structures. The scalability and interlocking feature of the modules make it possible to reconfigure the tiles. Among the future utilization visions of TESSERAE modules, there are larger volume of orbiting bases like space hotels.


Previously, the team has conducted four microgravity experiments, namely Parabolic Flight in 2017, Suborbital Rocket Launch in 2019, ISS 30 day mission in 2020, and Axiom Space Ax-1 mission in 2022. Testings include validation of the v1 mechanical structure, magnet polarity arrangements, self-assembly protocol, the embedded sensor network, communication architecture between tiles, on-demand actuation of electro-permanent magnets for tile-tile bonding control, and power budget over three sustained minutes of microgravity, autonomous self-assembly, docking over many days of sustained microgravity, and the quality of bonds between tiles.


If you are interested in learning how to design a human shelter on other planets, habitations for orbit, and space architecture, here is your opportunity to sign in MARS Architecture Workshop here.

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