We might not be able to terraform Mars (despite Elon Musk's claims) but NASA is still looking for ways to colonize the red planet. The space agency has just announced the winners of a contest to design a 3D printed Martian habitat that four astronauts could call home for up to a year.
The habitat needs 1,000 square feet of living space, with plans for essentials like life support, mechanical and electrical systems, plumbing, and spacesuit and rover hatches. It should be sustainable, and possible to 3D print on Mars using the planet's natural resources. It also has to be able to withstand extreme cold and harsh weather, including frequent dust storms.
The five winners are:
“We are thrilled to see the success of this diverse group of teams that have approached this competition in their own unique styles,” said Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges.
“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.”
For the competition's next stage, the winners will need to actually 3D print parts of their design, culminating with a 1/3 scale model of the whole habitat.
NASA wants you
NASA's Centennial Challenges are a series of contests designed to get the public involved in the space agency's work and come up with new solutions to particularly thorny problems.
Other contests include the Space Robotics Challenge, which invites teams to design software to control NASA's Valkyrie humanoid robot on space missions, and the Vascular Tissue Challenge, which involves creating human organ tissue with its own blood vessels in a lab.