Finalists from NASA’s 3D-printed Mars home challenge are out of this world

nasa 3d printed habitat finalists p3l4 search apis cor
Team SEArch+/Apis Cor

It’s expensive to ship things through space, so when the first space colonists reach the moon or Mars, they will want to carry as little cargo as possible. That poses a challenge: If they need to limit the amount of resources they bring, what will colonists use to build their shelters?

One idea is to live in networks of lava tubes, which would protect them from the extreme conditions found at the surface. Another is to build their shelter using resources found along the way.

To that end, NASA has selected three finalists in the latest stage of its 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, an ongoing competition to design sustainable shelters suitable for the first space colonists. The goal is to build the structures out of things found on-site so that missions can limit their cargo.

Since the challenged was launched in 2015, it has gone through three phases with multiple levels each. The substages required teams to develop and demonstrate designs in fields like architectural modeling, material development, and construction.

The most recent stage, complete virtual construction, saw 11 teams develop full-scale renderings using modeling software. They were tasked with describing their decisions in an accompanying video. NASA assessed the entries based on aspects like feasibility, scalability, functionality, and aesthetic.

The first place award of the most recent stage went to Team SEArch+/Apis Cor (pictured at top), whose twisting smokestack structure is designed for continuous reinforcement. Ports situated on the top and sides of the cylindrical shelter maximize natural lighting. Watch the team’s virtual video here.

nasa 3d printed habitat finalists zopherus
Team Zopherus

Team Zopherus (above) won second place for its shelter that is designed to be constructed by an autonomous roving printer. The rover is designed to complete the shelter in stages, completing one section before moving on to the next.

Team Mars Incubator (below) brought home the third-place prize for its modular design. The structure includes four separate quarters connected by walkways. One of the rooms is specifically designed for growing plants. The team consists of artists and engineers.

nasa 3d printed habitat finalists marsincubator
Mars Incubator

These three teams will share a $100,000 prize purse. So far, more than $3.1 million has been awarded to teams through the competition.

The finalists will now compete for $800,000 in a stage that requires them to 3D print scale models of their designs. A head-to-head print-off will draw the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge to a close in May. The event will take place in Peoria, Illinois.

Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants your help developing autonomous robots to explore other worlds

NASA is asking for the public's help to create the robots which could one day explore the moon, Mars, and beyond. It has launched the second phase of its Space Robotics Challenge to develop autonomous functionalities of the robots.
Cars

The best family cars you can buy combine practicality, tech, driving pleasure

The perfect family car should exude value, without sacrificing practicality. Thankfully, there are a host of family cars that do just that, including a three-row SUV and one of the best stations wagons ever built.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Health & Fitness

We spit in a ton of test tubes to find the best and most unique DNA tests

DNA tests aren’t just limited to ancestry. You can test for your risks for certain diseases, the best workouts and diets for your health and fitness, and more.
Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.
Emerging Tech

SpaceIL’s crashed lander may have sent thousands of tardigrades to the moon

When the SpaceIL craft Beresheet crashed into the moon earlier this year, it left more than just an impact mark. Thousands of micro-animals called tardigrades were along for the ride and may have survived the crash.