The US space agency NASA has published the results of the Mars housing contest. Buildings can be created using 3D printing. Their design would also be interesting on Earth.

In August, five finalists split a hundred thousand dollars for the design of a dwelling that people could build on Mars. The prizes were awarded within the 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge, announced in 2014 by NASA, which was attended by around thirty contestants.

Challenge phases

In the first phase ending in 2015, only the architectural study was evaluated. The second phase, which focused on the materials used and the overall structure, ended last year. Now closed the third phase has brought five finalists. They are waiting for the final part of the contests and then the production of the model in the 1:3 scale.

The purpose of the competition is to find a design that would allow us to build a habitable space on another planet or moon without the need for a direct presence of people. In the next mission, they should move into the ready-made dwelling.

Teams had to create digital representations of the physical and functional properties of the Martian home.

According to the TechCrunch server, a special software called Building Information Modeling has been used. With this help, they should meet certain conditions regarding the properties of the buildings in order to be functional structures including wall thickness, sealing, air filtration, heating, and other properties.

NASA has evaluated individual designs, academia, and industry experts and awarded points. That’s why the teams are taking a different share of the win.

The conditions of the competition were that the dwelling must have a floor area of ​​at least a thousand square feet (about 93 m²). There must be plenty of room for four residents to stay here for at least a year. Along with them, there must be “accommodation” for machines and accessories for life on Mars.

Buildings have to be largely built up automatically. At least enough for people to start living as soon as they land on Mars. The judges placed emphasis on completeness, layout, aesthetics, and the use of 3D printing in order to make the building as complete as possible.

Buildings for Mars

First of all, at this stage of the competition, the Zopherus team from Arkansas was located. One of its great benefits is the use of a large landing module. That could be for example a 3D printer that selects and moves the site. Using this moving printer will allow easy replication of individual living modules. The construction uses local material to obtain the robots the ship/printer brings.

The AI ​​SpaceFactory team was on the second rank with its Marsham project, which is in the shape of a high-rise cocoon. Such a shape, according to the creators, is more suitable for both space use and 3D printing due to Mars conditions. There are four floors in its interior. This proposal also includes the use of local materials, but also those created within the framework of the mission.

As the third best proposal, the jury nominated the Kahn-Yates team project from Mississippi. Their marsh dwelling also has four floors but is more interesting than the other team’s cocoon. The team has focused on its “building” resisting the wild dust storm and the harsh climate that prevails on Mars. In addition, their project is one of those that drives most of the interior into the interior. It brings a lot of comfort to the inhabitants.

Other interesting projects

Also interesting is the project SEArch + / Apis Cor, which ranked fourth in the competition. The team from New York focused on a structure using a regolith, the upper layer covering the subsoil to allow shielding of the radiation and physical protection. The advantage is the maximum light transmission with the aim of minimizing ambient radiation and other harmful radiation.

The last finalist is from the Northwestern University of Illinois and bets on a simple construction. The popular spherical shape of a dome with a dome works with interconnected spaces separated by partitions. The base is an inflatable space that covers a solid shell created on Mars.


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