New York – After the hit mark announcement that liquid water was found on Mars, NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, known as America Makes, opened a $2.25 million Mars Habitat competition to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars. Today winners were announced.
NASA awarded the first place prize to the visually stunning Mars Ice House by a team of designers from Clouds Architecture Office and Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch). The sleek structure aims to harness the Red Planet’s liquid water and low temperatures to build a “multi-layered pressurized radiation shell of ice” according to Discovery News.
More than 165 submissions were received, and the 30 highest-scoring entries were judged, displayed at the Maker Faire event in New York. All teams were judged on many factors, including architectural concept, design approach, habitability, innovation, functionality, Mars site selection and 3-D print constructability.
The contest seeks to foster the development of new technologies for manufacturing a habitat using local materials in space and on Earth. The first-place award of $25,000 went to Mars Ice House. Second place and $15,000 was awarded to Team Gamma. Third place was awarded to Team LavaHive.
The designers behind the winning project, Ice House, say it was “born from the imperative to bring light and a connection to the outdoors into the vocabulary of Martian architecture – to create protected space in which the mind and body will not just survive, but thrive.”
The design included a double-walled structure that would create a more intimate dwelling space surrounded by what the designers called a “contemplative yard” area. When moving from the center of the habitat towards the outer wall, more light comes which will help preserve the astronauts’ psychological health.
“On Earth, we take things for granted. We don’t think about the air we breathe. In extreme environments, you have to consider every element of being human,” said Michael Morris, professor of Space Studio class at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, to WIRED.
NASA has been focusing on the potential negative effects that long-term spaceflight could have on human mind and body, so the habitat made from ice will protect inhabitants from solar and galactic radiation.
“While scientists have experimented with what could potentially be synthetic replacements for sunlight, artificial substitutes do not hold nearly the same circadian variance or ability to balance a crew’s mental and physical health as does experiencing the sun’s actual and unmediated daily cycles,” the project’s website explains as reported by WIRED.