One day in the not too distant future, NASA could send the first human beings to Mars. In doing so, they will need shelter from the harsh elements, such as high radiation levels, extreme cold, lack of oxygen, and the frequent dust storms experienced on the distant red planet. Could these Martian bases one day be created by robotic 3D printers, using the soil already located on Mars as a bonding agent? Perhaps. A couple of months ago, NASA and MakerBot’s Thingiverse teamed up to challenge the public to come up with 3D printable models for potential bases on Mars. Over 225 entries were received, and many of them were quite thought provoking and very unique. Below you will find a handful of some of the more popular designs uploaded to Thingiverse.
Martian Pyramid by Thingiverse user Valcrow
If aliens would come to earth, one of the first things that they would notice would likely be the amazing pyramids built thousands of years ago (if it wasn’t them that build them, as some believe), so why not take the same idea to Mars? The structure would be incredibly green (or maybe the word to use here is ‘red’), and utilize mirrors to collect energy, as well as heat the structure. The openness of the structure would allow for ample light which crews could utilize for whatever they are busy working on. There are intricate details on how energy collection will work and water storage will be.
Mars MakerBot Base by Thingiverse user XOHenno
This base features a modular construction method, which is initiated with a group of transport modules that can be launched from the International Space Station towards Mars. Once they get their, crews can begin working on their main base. Once done, these transport modules can be retrofitted to connect to the main base, with interconnected walkways between them all. This will keep the structure air tight, and the heat in.
Astronaut Action Figure Play Set by Thingiverse user Solstie
Unlike some of the other designs, this is actually an entire action figure play set which is completely 3D printable, as you can see. This design includes astronauts, landing capsules, miniature MakerBot printers, a water system, a vehicle, a green house, and storage tanks. The landing capsules will be converted into living quarters once they arrive on the red planet. From there they should have everything they need to stay alive on Mars.
The Queen B (Bioshielding) 2 Bedroom 2 Bath Mars Apartment by Thingiverse user NoahHornberger
Shaped like a bee hive, this design is quite an interesting one. The living quarters have rooms shaped like hexagons. Due to the compactness of the hexagon structure, heat will remain entrapped in the building, protecting astronauts from the -80 degree temperatures outside. A majority of the important processes and storage will take place beneath the structure. Air purification will be underground as will a storage area for water, which will be heated by an electric heater or exothermic chemical reactor beneath the surface.
mars_CRAG_base by Thingiverse user bendBradyThis design is a vertically expandable base, which utilizes Mars’ own soil to construct thick walls which would insulate the structure from the harsh temperatures. Every tower is connected at ground level, and is designed to work with an environment with less gravitational pull.
As I said, there were so many incredible designs submitted. I wish we could have profiled them all, however, these will do for now. The complete list of submissions can be found at the Thingiverse website.
Which is your favorite? Let’s hear your thoughts in the 3D printed Mars base forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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