As we inch towards a future where mankind starts to explore and plant our species’ into other worlds, our future space explorers will need the technology to build themselves habitats that will allow them to live and work on these alien environments.
NASA recently announced the winners of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge which challenged teams to create sub-scale habitats. Seen above is the entry from Team SEArch_/Apis Cor of New York who which won fourth place in the Phase 3: Level 1 competition. The Phase 3: Level 1 competition required teams to come up with digital models of the physical and functional characteristics of a habitat on Mars. The five winners were selected from 18 teams and they each won a share of the $100,000 prize of the competition.
First prize went to Team Zopherus of Rogers, Arkansas. The winning entry took inspiration from biology found on earth and built with 3D tech and built with materials found on Mars. Team Zopherus’ idea relies on an autonomous lander that builds the modular structures one at a time. Rovers collect ice, calcium oxide, and Martian aggregate to use as materials to create concrete. The rovers deliver the materials to the lander which continues to build structures within its pressurized chamber despite Mars’ extreme environment.
The 3D-Printed Habitat challenge began in 2014 and competitors in Phase 1 competed to submit architectural renderings while Phase 2 of the competition focused on material technologies and required competitors to come up with structural components for a habitat on another planet. With habitats like these, perhaps Mark Watney would have felt more confident about surviving longer on the Red Planet until rescue came along. Learn more about 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge from NASA.