Technology

NASA held a contest to design a habitable 3D-printed home on Mars — here's what that could look like

nasa 3d printed home competition

  • NASA has chosen three finalists in its competition to design a structure that could house humans on the moon or Mars.
  • The structures need to be able to be 3D-printed using materials that are already on the planet.
  • The designs will go head-to-head on May 1, with $800,000 up for grabs.
  • Here is what NASA’s favorite designs for 3D printed homes on Mars look like:
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA has spent four years looking at designs for habitats that could be 3D-printed on the moon or Mars, and has selected its favorite three designs.

NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Competition launched in 2015, looking for structures that could be built autonomously using materials that are already on the planets.

The top three teams will go head to head on Wednesday, printing 3D scale models of their designs in competition for $800,000 in prize money. The winner will then be announced on May 4.

NASA said it’s trying to find the technology that is “needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth, the Moon, Mars and beyond.”

One design features smalls ports that let in natural light

nasa 3d printed homes mars

New York-based Team SEArch+/Apis Cor won first place in the semi-finals of NASA’s competition, which required teams to make their design with modeling software.

The team said their design lets them use “indigenous, Martian materials to form a pioneering and durable habitat supporting future human missions to Mars.”

It is designed to protect humans from radiation and prioritize natural light and views of the Martian landscape as part of “celebrating human life.”

NASA mars 3d printed habitat challenge

The habitat includes living areas and multiple laboratories, a kitchen, a water tower, and vertical gardens that have plants which would function as filters to provide drinkable water.

This video shows how it would be constructed, and what it would look like inside:

Another design would be constructed by an autonomous rover

NASA 3rd printed home mars competition

The design by Arkansas-based Team Zopherus would be printed by an autonomous rover that it says could protect the structure from the harsh atmosphere. Zopherus say they would aim to create Martian concrete from on-site materials to create a hard shell for the structure.

The team described their design as “inspired by biology” and said that it could easily be expanded by adding more modules.

It is designed to prevent the structure from cracking as temperatures on Mars vary wildly, and includes a radiation shield. The main hub that connects the other modules is, like SEArch+/Apis Cor’s design, filled with plants and natural light. The team envisions the main hub also serving as the docking space for the Mars Rover.

nasa 3d printed homes nasa competition

This video shows how it would be constructed and how it would look:

The third and final team created a structure with four distinct zones

NASA 3d printed home mars

Connecticut-based team Mars Incubator created an orange-colored structure that connects four distinct zones with bridges.

One of the four zones is where humans prepare to visit the planet outside, while the others contain multi-purpose spaces and space for growing plants. The largest structure is where crew can sleep and prepare food. 

NASA Mars 3d printed home

Mars Incubator’s video shows its layout and how it would be built:

 

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