Human travelers to Mars will require shelter from the harsh environment. To help generate ideas for how to build those Martian habitats, NASA recently awarded over $200,000 to citizen inventors working to created 3D-printable structures from recyclable materials and simulated Martian soil.
The teams are competing in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which is now in its second phase. The latest milestone required participants to print a structural beam that would undergo bend testing, with scores based on the use of recycled material or material like that found on Mars, and on the maximum load that the beam could support.
“These competitors are working to advance critical systems needed for human space exploration,” Lex Akers, dean of the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Illinois’ Bradley University, said in a statementfrom NASA. Bradley University has partnered with NASA’s Centennial Challenges program to run the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. [How Will a Human Mars Base Work? NASA’s Vision in Images]