NASA has unveiled a design for a pod with a 3D print that can provide housing for the first people to visit the Red Planet.
In contrast to earlier Martian designs, which are usually low-lying domes or buried structures, the so-called MARSHA pod is a vertical container with a minimal footprint.
This makes it a lot easier to build, because there is no need for a construction rover that moves on unknown ground. Instead, it is built with a vertical telescopic arm attached to a stationary rover.
It has a double scale design to protect the habitable spaces from the natural expansion and contraction caused by the extreme temperature fluctuations on Mars.
Inside, the functional areas are spread over four levels, with a spiral staircase that allows human residents to move freely.
- On the first level there is a wet lab and a preparation area for astronauts entering and leaving the pod;
- The second level has a dry laboratory, as well as the kitchen;
- The third level has four sleeping capsules, as well as the "sanitary pod" (toilet) and a garden;
- The fourth level is a practice and recreation area.
Each level has at least one window, which together covers the full 360-degree panorama. There is also a large water-filled skylight at the top of the structure.
Circadian lighting, designed to mimic earthly light, is also used to maximize crew health.
"Architecture on Earth plays a crucial role in the way we live," says AI SpaceFactory, the New York-based design team.
"On Mars this role reaches a higher level of importance because architectures are machines that keep us alive.
"In the architecture of the room, every design decision is of great importance for the success of a mission. Structures must be resilient and interior layouts must function around mission requirements.
"But since sustainable social and mental health is also mission-critical, space habitats must provide an element of humanity.
"The result is a believable and lifelike habitat with an extraterrestrial yet familiar beauty."
AI SpaceFactory has been selected as the winner of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge from NASA and has won the top prize of $ 500,000.
The competition challenged participants to create shelters from recyclable materials and materials that can be found at deep-space destinations such as the moon and Mars.
They also had to build a scale of a third of their architectural designs, using robotic construction techniques that made minimal human intervention possible.
AI SpaceFactory was praised for the way it automated the building process – completing the structure with almost no human assistance in 30 hours.
It was also praised for its innovative biopolymer basalt composite – a biodegradable and recyclable material derived from natural materials found on Mars.
After passing NASA & # 39; s pressure, smoke and impact tests, this material turned out to be stronger and more durable than its concrete competitors.
"It's light and it's strong, just like an airplane," said Lex Akers, dean of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Bradley University, who was one of the jury members.
"That is going to be very important for these types of habitats."
Monsi Roman, program manager for NASA's Centennial Challenges, added that it would help the US space agency improve the technologies needed to establish a human presence on Mars.
NASA has previously said it plans to send people to Mars by the mid-2030s.
Earlier this year, Jim Bridenstine, the space agency's administrator, said the first person to set foot on Mars was probably a woman.