NASA's 3-D Printed Mars Habitat Contest Winners Offer Us A Look At A Martian Future

Tuesday, 07 August 2018 - 10:47AM
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Tuesday, 07 August 2018 - 10:47AM
NASA's 3-D Printed Mars Habitat Contest Winners Offer Us A Look At A Martian Future
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Image Credit: Screenshot - Youtube SEArch+/Apis Cor/NASA
Five teams from the United States are sharing in a $100,000 prize in the latest stage of NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Centennial Challenge competition, which has yielded some amazing visions of what Mars colonization could look like in the coming centuries. The five were selected by judges from NASA and partner Bradley University of Peoria, Illinois, from a larger group of 18 teams from around the world who were tasked with creating virtual models of Martian live/work habitats that could house four astronauts for a year. 

The winning teams and their respective prize packages were as follows:

1) Team Zopherus of Rogers, Arkansas - $20,957.95


2) AI. SpaceFactory of New York - $20,957.24


3) Kahn-Yates of Jackson, Mississippi - $20,622.74


4) SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York - $19,580.97


5) Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois - $17,881.10


These virtual models are the first of five parts – two virtual and three construction – of the third and final phase of competition which will eventually see the final teams autonomously 3D print a one-third-scale model of their habitats as they vie for a $2 million prize. 

The purpose of the contest is to "foster development of new technologies to additively manufacture a habitat using local indigenous materials with, or without, recyclable materials, in space and on Earth" while "using advanced 3D printing technology in the most efficient and sustainable way possible." The importance of this endeavor cannot be overstated, especially as scientists and researchers around the world are raising the alarm that we may well be approaching the tipping point – if we have not passed it already – to becoming a "hothouse" planet, no longer capable of organically sustaining human life. A recent New York Times magazine article, "Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change" suggested that the worst could yet come and that the "prospect of a five-degree warming has prompted some of the world's leading climate scientists to warn of the end of human civilization." In such a scenario, humans may well have to leave the planet in order for humanity to survive.

NASA's contest organizers maintained a focus on a slightly less apocalyptic future, however. "They are not just designing structures," said Monsi Roman, NASA's program manager for Centennial Challenges, of the contestants,  "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."


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