3D Printed Cylinders Tower Over Mars Surface in Latest Design for Habitat Challenge

Share this Article

NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge has seen several companies competing for a high honor – to design the first habitats for humans on Mars and the moon. Using 3D printing, these competitors have proven their ability to create structures such as cones, cylinders and beams. The most recent phase of the competition takes things to a new level by asking the teams to present their ideas for entire structures. A lot of the ideas offered thus far have been low dome-like structures, some partially buried in the ground. But AI SpaceFactory, the second place winner of the most recent competition round, has something a bit different in mind.

MARSHA (MARS HAbitat), features tall, cylindrical structures that resemble elongated eggs, optimized to handle internal atmospheric pressure and structural stresses. They’re quite different from Earth dwellings, which are designed to handle mostly gravity and wind.

The ground level of each MARSHA structure has a “garage” that contains external systems and exploration activities with a supporting wet lab. Above that is the main hub, with 34 square meters of joint dry lab and kitchen. The third level has individual cabins, a sanitation pod, and a hydroponic garden. The fourth level is a recreation and exercise area and features a bright, water-filled skylight. Each building is made from two “shells” with the space between acting as a light-well. Circadian lighting is designed to recreate Earthlight.

The reason so much work is being put into developing methods and materials for construction on Mars is that it isn’t realistic at all to consider bringing building materials from Earth, so everything must be fabricated from material readily available on the red planet. To that end, AI spaceFactory is developing basalt fibre-reinforced PLA (bf-PLA), with the basalt extracted from Mars rocks and the PLA harvested and processed from plants grown on Mars. Basalt fibre is super-strong and happens to be a natural insulator, so it’s convenient that it will be so readily available, as well.

Whenever humans do get to the point at which colonizing Mars is an imminent possibility, NASA plans to send robots ahead to the planet to gather materials and 3D print the habitats so that they’re ready for people when they arrive.

“Architecture on Earth plays a critical role in the way we live. On Mars, this role reaches a higher level of importance since architectures are machines which keep us alive,” says AI spaceFactory. “In space architecture, every design decision is of great consequence to the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must function around mission demands.  But since sustained social and mental health is also mission-critical, space habitats should offer an element of humanity. The result is a credible and evocative habitat with an alien yet familiar beauty.”

The structures may look alien from the outside, but on the inside, they appear comfortable and livable. The fact that they’re built vertically means that there’s no need for a robot to travel across an unknown surface to build them; a stationary rover with a telescoping arm builds the structures.

NASA has awarded AI SpaceFactory almost $21,000 to further develop the project.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: AI spaceFactory]

Share this Article


Recent News

New Partnership: BEGO’s Dental Materials Allow Formlabs Customers to 3D Print Crowns & Bridges

Kentucky’s Somerset Community College 3D Prints in Metal on Modified FDM 3D Printers that Cost $600 Each



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

5 3D Printing for Agriculture Applications

Agriculture stands to gain more from technology than many other industries. Farming is critical to both an individual farmer’s livelihood and to the entirety of society. As such, everyone benefits...

CIA’s In-Q-Tel Invests in Markforged

Boston-based startup Markforged is growing rapidly, pulling in a whopping $82 million investment in March 2019. Now, the 3D printer manufacturer is getting some additional funds, though this time the...

Ti6Al4V in Selective Laser Melting: Analysis of Laser Polishing Techniques

Chinese researchers are expanding on new materials and technology for improving surface quality in metal 3D printing, outlining their findings in ‘Laser Polishing of Ti6Al4V Fabricated by Selective Laser Melting.’...

Tennessee Researchers Analyze Low-Cost Metal 3D Printing with Composites

Tennessee researchers have come together to pursue a more in-depth look at the science of 3D printing with metal, outlining their findings in the recently published ‘Dimensional Analysis of Metal...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our 3DPrint.com.

You have Successfully Subscribed!