WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Space agencies are eyeing up colonies on Mars – and they’re going to need awesome habitats.
So far I’ve seen all manner of Martian habitats and concepts – from the run of the mill, and amazing, 3D printed habitats like the Mars Vernacular and Dubai’s Mars Dune colony, all the way through to weirder habitats that are literally grown from fungi. Now though, as we look forward to NASA’s Artemis Program to send humans back to the Moon, and eventually Mars, there’s yet another new concept – robot built inflatable habitats.
For years, humanity has dreamt of what the Red Planet might offer and hopefully we’ll see humans land there within our lifetimes. But unlike other space missions though these humans might not come back to Earth for years and NASA has already made its decision on where they’ll stay during this time.
Check out the new habitats
NASA began planning on building a human habitat on Mars many years ago and even launched a public challenge back in 2014 to shortlist design concepts. Open to civilian designers the challenge sought ideas for 1,000 square feet (92.9 sq. m) of living space that could support four astronauts for up to a year.
Previous space missions have focused on providing only essential requirements, but when you are 245 million miles or 374 million km, away from home you might need a lot more than just essentials. And now, years later, NASA have finally picked their top design which was submitted by Hassel Studio, an architectural firm, and Eckersley O’Callaghan, an engineering design team.
As you can see their submission is quite unlike any of the other concepts we’ve seen so far and oddly for such an important building it doesn’t stand out on the Martian surface, but there’s a good reason for that.
The Martian surface is nothing as favourable as the one we have on Earth, so the team suggest using swarms of robots to construct the buildings outer shell first before the astronauts arrive so they’ll be protected from the planet’s fierce radiation and dust storms.
Versatile in their function, these robots could work individually or in swarms to accomplish the tasks finishing with the construction of the shell – which is likely to be achieved through 3D printing. Then, once the outer shield is ready, the plan would be to let the astronauts arrive with inflatable pods that they simply inflate in situ and which will be their home away from home.