Nasa has revealed five 3D-printable habitats that may one day provide a base for the first explorers of Mars.
The designs were submitted to the US space agency as part of its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, launched in 2015 in a bid to create a sustainable living concept for the first inhabitants of the red planet.
Judges from Nasa and its partner on the project, Illinois-based Bradley University, selected the five finalists from designs by a total of 18 teams, says Engadget.
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The teams were tasked with finding solutions that could be implemented safely and effectively on Mars. This means ensuring that the wall thickness, heating, pressure sealing and other elements are suffiently tough to withstand the planet’s hostile environment, the tech news site adds.
Each habitat must have enough room to comfortably house four people for up to a year, TechCrunch reports, and would be “largely assembled autonomously”, meaning machines must complete most of the building process, with minimal human intervention.
The judges also graded the concepts on their aesthetics. One of the designs comprises a giant spider-like lander that dispenses 3D-printed houses from an internal chamber.
Another, called Marsha, is a three-floor egg-shaped tower that expands and contracts to cope with Mars’s sudden and extreme temperature changes.
All five finalists share $100,000 (£76,000) in prize money and now proceed to the third phase in the competition, when they must build a scale-model of their concepts, says Futurism.
The teams still have plenty of time to perfect their designs: it could be decades before a manned mission to Mars takes place.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX hopes to be among the first private aerospace firms to take humans to Mars with its new BFR (Big F***ing Rocket), which will begin testing next year.
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