3D Printing

3D-printed Mars shelter concept is out of this world

3D-printed Mars shelter concep...
Resembling a futuristic igloo from the surface, the Sfero shelter would be partially buried beneath the ground
Resembling a futuristic igloo from the surface, the Sfero shelter would be partially buried beneath the ground
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Resembling a futuristic igloo from the surface, the Sfero shelter would be partially buried beneath the ground
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Resembling a futuristic igloo from the surface, the Sfero shelter would be partially buried beneath the ground
The interior comprises three floors
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The interior comprises three floors
Access between each floor is gained by a spiral staircase
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Access between each floor is gained by a spiral staircase

Though the field is still relatively new, 3D-printed architecture could prove a real boon to potential Mars colonizers. Inspired by NASA's competition seeking ideas for potential 3D-printed Mars habitats, French firm Fabulous has designed a conceptual shelter, dubbed Sfero, that would be 3D-printed on the Red Planet using locally-available materials.

Resembling a futuristic igloo from the surface, the Sfero shelter would be partially buried beneath the ground. Access to the shelter would be gained by its one long corridor, which contains an airlock.

The interior comprises three floors. The uppermost floor, which looks more like a mezzanine, measures just 3 sq m (32 sq ft), and is given over totally to growing foodstuffs, while the next floor down measures 29 sq m (312 sq ft) and comprises a work area and bathroom. Finally, the lowermost floor measures 40 sq m (430 sq ft), and contains sleeping quarters. The occupants would navigate between each floor by a spiral staircase.

The interior comprises three floors
The interior comprises three floors

Fabulous envisions that the Red Planet's own substrata could be used as a raw material for 3D printing. It's not entirely clear how this would work, but the process involves a central mast that would extract iron from the planet's soil and rock, and also seek out permafrost to turn into water and use as insulation between the structure's inner and outer shell, reducing the effects of solar radiation.

"The central pole is buried in the Martian soil by drilling," says the firm (via Google Translate). "The objective is to bury several meters to build solid foundations and also to seek the permafrost that will be liquefied for feeding the aqueous pocket. Once embedded, the mast deploys two robot arms, one of which sucks and sorts the material to extract the iron, and the other housing built by metal 3D printing."

The firm imagines the shelter being tested in California's Mojave Desert or somewhere in Hawaii, while the Gale Crater is slated as the shelter's final Mars location.

The concept is almost certainly not going to be realized, but designs like this and the Queen B (Bioshielding) may offer a clue as to what kind of structure could eventually be used to keep astronauts alive in the extreme environment of Mars. The European Space Agency is also considering building a 3D-printed moonbase.

Source: Fabulous via Dezeen

7 comments
nicho
"It's not entirely clear how this would work ..." That is putting it politely. I would expect we'd want to use any water we find on Mars for living and growing food, not as a binding agent for printed housing.
Bob Flint
Even more importantly is having air to breath, I suppose the robots could be sent ahead and reap the available resources, but even they will need power to do their jobs. The first attempts haven't quite gone as planned, and will need to be virtually fool proof if they are to be able to set-up homes for feeble humanoids that need air, water food, and a real reason to be there...
James Jennings
How about this one, <a href="http://www.redworks3d.com">Redworks 3D</a>, small private team with no corporate backing and a plan to actually build it. Full disclosure: baby sister is team geologist and construction expert.
windykites
It had not occurred to me before, but the astronauts will need air To breathe, so the most important thing is to find water on Mars, before sending anyone there. Has water been discovered? This design shown is all very lovely, but highly fanciful. It would be much easier just to dig a deeper hole, and have a flat roof. Alternatively, dig a cave into a hillside. Personally, I see little to be gained by sending men to Mars. As one of the suggestions is a one-way trip, this is a suicide mission. It is amazing that people have volunteered for this.
Nik
As a kid, I used to read a lot of science fiction/fantasy but I eventually grew out of it. I think this idea comes under that general heading. "The uppermost floor, which looks more like a mezzanine, measures just 3 sq m (32 sq ft), and is given over totally to growing foodstuffs," The designers have obviously never tried to grow their own food, 3 sq m of food would probably last a week at most, for one person! Quarter of an acre is probably a minimum area for self sufficiency, for several people, so the 3 sq m would need to be the living space, and the remainder, plus a lot more would be required for growing 'foodstuffs.' Even with hydroponics, multiple layers of growing areas would be needed to provide food for the year, and a nuclear generator to supply the energy. Added to that would be the need to replenish the necessary nutrients, for the system to continue functioning. Where would they come from?
Nik
It is possible to break CO2 into carbon and oxygen, with a technique invented in Victorian times, but then it will be essential to combine oxygen with nitrogen, as a pure oxygen atmosphere is highly reactive. [Remember the unlucky astronauts that were cremated in their launch capsule.] So the bigger problem is obtaining the essential nitrogen. The next problem is being able to breath while this process produces enough oxygen, for several people.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Equipment already on Mars is close to that needed to build an earth bermed structure!