The Joy of Sets presents
Capricorn Two: A Mars Mission Simulation


The University of the Underground, Sandberg Institute

Capricorn Two is a collaboration with space architect Dr. Barbara Imhof and students of the University of the Underground (Sandberg Institute) in Amsterdam. With guidance from Popper and Imhof, the students designed and produced detailed and immersive stages for dedicated Mars mission simulations.

The sets were made out of cardboard and other simple materials. They imagined specific sites on Earth and the surface of Mars, where the students performed collaborative missions as various crew members. The crews were connected by video-call with a 2-minute communications delay between Earth and Mars imposed as part of a strict mission protocol—further increasing the simulation fidelity.

Bringing set-building together with space mission design demonstrates an exciting potential of hands-on making as a form of dedicated outer space research. By combining mission scenarios with imagination and fabrication, handmade space simulations can be an engaging and valuable form of investigation through speculative methods of experience design.

The Joy of Sets is an educational workshop series based on the activity of set-building, developed by Nicholas Mortimer and Joseph Popper. Primarily working in schools of art and design, it presents students with a chance to explore a rapid prototyping approach to realising ideas hands-on at 1:1 scale. The Joy of Sets champions a process of thinking through making: a method for exploring scenarios and experimenting with ideas in dynamic and playful working atmospheres.