NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge is edging towards its conclusion, which means another phase of the four-year competition has drawn to a close. This latest round tasked teams with creating detailed virtual models of shelters designed specifically for life on Mars, with the winners each claiming a share of US$100,000 ahead of the grand finale next month.

Since kicking off in 2015, the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge has seen competing teams put together architectural renderings of potential shelters, create their structural components and also start carving out virtual models of their abodes intended for the Moon, Mars or beyond.

The latest phase required teams to create fully fleshed out virtual constructions, including the architectural layout and the interior spaces, while demonstrating the 3D printability and construction viability of their designs. This was detailed in short videos along with miniature 3D-printed models that could be disassembled to reveal the interior design.

Taking top honors this time around was the SEArch+/Apis Cor team from New York, which actually won the last round in the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. Taking a $34,000 share of the prize money this time around, the team's habitat takes on the form of a twisted tower (pictured above), which apparently allows for continuous reinforcement of the structure, while natural light filters in through holes dotted around the facade and in the top.

Earning second place and $33,400 for its trouble was Team Zoperhous from Arkansas, whose shelter would be printed by an autonomous rover. These robots would collect building materials from the surface and use it to build modules, which could be joined together as part of an expandable habitat.

And coming in third for a prize of $32,6000 is the Mars Incubator team from Connecticut, whose habitat is made up of a vestibule for deployment to the outside, a living area, a multi-purpose space and a biogeneration zone for plant growth.

NASA's 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge will draw to a close over May 1-4, where teams will go head-to-head in printing out a sub-scale model of their structures with $800,000 in prize money up for grabs.

You can check out the videos from the teams mentioned here below.

Source: NASA

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