NASA selected three teams to share a $ 100,000 prize from a competition to create virtual Martian habitats.
The 11 participating groups were responsible for making a large-scale habitat using modeling software, based on a Earliest stage of the competition That required partial virtual modeling.
The teams were qualified in their design, programming, use of the interior space and the capacity of their habitat to scale to full size for construction, according to a statement from NASA Announcing the winners. The groups also received points for their aesthetic representation and their realism.
Related: The first Mars colony could be printed in 3D from the dust of the red planet
This is what the three prize winners sent (more videos about each one):
SEArch + / Apis Cor – New York City – Granted $ 33,954.11: This model would use the top of a single-stage Hercules reusable Vehicle for a habitat, with the rest of the module printed in 3D and built on the site by scouts. The design included an inward-facing arch, which is useful for maintaining air pressure on Mars because there is more pressure inside the arch (where astronauts live and work) than outside. Contributors say their design will withstand the forces of air pressure similar to the way a dam retains the force of water. The habitat includes three separate zones that can be sealed in case of an emergency. The crew could also evacuate quickly from any of the three levels of the structure using an external staircase. Within the habitat there are two laboratories, four bedrooms, a greenhouse, a relaxation area and areas to support rovers and spacewalks, among other things.
Team Zopherus – Rogers, Arkansas – Awarded $ 33,422.01: This is a design inspired by biology, with several pods for the crew room. A landing module would become the base habitat by falling to the ground and forming a seal, which would allow a pressurized environment for printing. From there, the rovers would pick up. Martian regolith (soil) and bring it back to the habitat to create aggregate cement, composed of carbonates and water from Mars. This mixture would be combined with highly recyclable thermal plastic to create habitat walls. Because concrete can fracture during temperature changes on Mars, the outer surface has a shade system (oriented toward the sun) to protect the shell's parts from the sun's heat, reducing the incidence of cracks. The habitat includes a community unit with a suit air bag, hydroponic gardens, four dormitories for the crew, a laboratory module and mobile hatches, and can be expanded as necessary to meet the demands of the investigation and the crew.
Mars Incubator – New Haven, Connecticut – Received $ 32,623.88: This multi-modular form would be built from scratch. The external supports for the modules are made of regolith and polyethylene plastic with basalt fiber, and the whole structure is resistant to radiation. The modules include a vestibule for suitcases and mobile vans, a multipurpose module, a biogeneration module for the growth of the plant and a main module that includes a laboratory space, a food preparation area and accommodation for the crew. Each module is connected with bridges that allow crew members to move from one place to another without leaving.
Team SEArch + / Apis Cor
The SEArch + / Apis Cor Team, which took first place in the Phase 3 software modeling stage: Level 4 of NASA's 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, presented a uniquely shaped habitat with constant support throughout the structure and many openings to shine natural light.
In Phase 3: Modeling Stage of the Level 4 software of NASA's 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, Team Zopherus took home second place. The team presented a design created by a roving and autonomous printer that moves from one site to another after completing a structure.
Mars equipment incubator
In NASA's 3D Print Habitat Challenge, the Mars Equipment Incubator took third place with its design from a group of engineers and artists.
The final phase of the competition will take place between May 1 and May 4, 2019, when the participating teams will present their structural impression (which is smaller than the real one, but still at scale) and compete for a prize of $ 800,000.
The overall goal of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge is to create shelters that can be used on the Moon, Mars or other places using local resources at these sites. NASA officials said in the statement that the solutions offered could also be used on Earth, which makes construction costs lower (among other benefits).