Life on Mars: NASA unveils Martian habitats for human colonisers | Science | News

The five habitat designs from across the USA came out on top in the latest stage of the space agency’s 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge competition.

The winning teams were selected for successfully creating digital representations of the functions these habitats would undertake on Mars.

The prize money was won based on scores assigned by a select panel of judges representing US academia and the space industry.

Monsi Roman, program manager for ’s Centennial Challenges, said: “We are thrilled to see the success of this diverse group of teams that have approached this competition in their own unique styles.

“They are not just designing structures, they are designing habitats that will allow our space explorers to live and work on other planets.

“We are excited to see their designs come to life as the competition moves forward.”

The first prize of £15,936.43 ($20,957.95) was awarded to Team Zopherus of Rogers, Arkansas.

Team Zopherus presented a modular Martian habitat 3D-printed remotely out of the Red Planet’s soil and pre-manufactured elements.

The modules would be assembled by a robotic printer and fleet of Martian rovers after landing on the planet.

This Mars habitat won second place in a NASA habitat contest (Image: NASA/AI SpaceFactory)

The second cash prize of £15,935.89 ($20,957.24) was handed to AI SpaceFactory of New York, who designed urn-like habitats dubbed MARSHA.

We are excited to see their designs come to life as the competition moves forward

Monsi Roman, NASA Centennial Challenges

In their presentation video, AI SpaceFactory said: “Marsha is our proposal for a Martian surface habitat. It’s born of a careful response to the Martian environment and a synergy between structural, architectural and construction principles.”

Team Kahn-Yates of Jackson, Mississippi, scored third place for their unique-looking habitats located around the Martian equator.

The habitat design features an organic-looking mesh or shell surrounding an inner, prefabricated core, and aims to negate the harsh effects of Martian dust storms.

The team was awarded a prize share of £15,681.53 ($20,622.74) for the design.

The following runner-ups were SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York and Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois, who won £14,889.37 ($19,580.97) and £13,596.79 ($17,881.10) respectively.

The goal of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is to one day supply astronauts with ability to remotely build shelters from the resources widely available on Mars.

Most habitat designs utilise so-called Martian concrete in their designs – a mix of ice, calcium oxide and Martian aggregate.

The first stage of the design challenge began with Phase 1 in 2014 and was completed in 2015 when a number of teams submitted their initial architectural renderings.

The overall prize pot for Phase 1 was £38,020.00 ($50,000).

NASA news: Mars habitat design

Team Zopherus won first place for their 3D-printed Martian habitat (Image: NASA/ TEAM ZOPHERUS)

Life on Mars: Martian Habitat design

This Martian habitat design would shield from the Red Planet’s dust storms (Image: NASA/ TEAM KAHN YATES)

Phase 2, or Structural Member Competition, the drew a £836,440 ($1.1million) prize purse for creating the necessary structural components required.

The ongoing phase, Phase 3, has an overall pool prize of £1.52million ($2million) to be handed out over a number of challenges.

Lex Akers, Bradley University, NASA’s partner in this challenge, said: “We are encouraging a wide range of people to come up with innovative designs for how they envision a habitat on Mars.

“The virtual levels allow teams from high schools, universities and businesses that might not have access to large 3D printers to still be a part of the competition because they can team up with those who do have access to such machinery for the final level of the competition.”

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