Okay, so this isn’t actually on Mars, but it’s a great video featuring The Mars Society’s Hab in Utah
One of the challenges of sending humans to Mars is providing a habitat on the planet’s surface that will shield astronauts from radiation and extremely low temperatures. One strategy that has been proposed is 3-D printing a habitat out of materials available on Mars. Earlier this year, NASA’s Centennial Challenges program announced a 3-D habitat contest in conjunction with the industry group America Makes. NASA awarded prize money to the top three teams in the first stage of the 3-D Habitat Design Challenge at the World Maker Faire in New York on Sunday, September 27.
Over 165 submissions were made and 30 finalists had their designs displayed and judged at the Maker Faire event. The $25,000 first prize was awarded to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for their design Ice House. Team Gamma won the second prize of $15,000 and also received the People’s Choice Award. Team LavaHive took third place.
“The creativity and depth of the designs we’ve seen have impressed us,” said Centennial Challenges Program Manager Monsi Roman. “These teams were not only imaginative and artistic with their entries, but they also really took into account the life-dependent functionality our future space explorers will need in an off-Earth habitat.”
Each of the top three designs took a different approach to utilizing materials available on Mars. All of the design would use robots in the construction process.
The Ice House design capitalized on the presence of water on Mars and persistent low temperatures at northern latitudes to create a pressurized, multi-layered radiation shell of ice that surrounds gardens and a lander habitat within. The translucent ice shell also allows in natural light.
Team Gamma’s design would employ a semi-autonomous, multi-robot regolith additive manufacturing (RAM) system to make a protective shield around a modular inflatable habitat. The habitat would be comprised of three inflatable dodecahedral modules.
Team LavaHive’s design combines a novel “lava-casting” technique with the use of recycled spacecraft materials and structured. The back shell of the Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) systems that will deliver the construction rovers to the surface will be used as the roof, with an inflatable module beneath as the primary living habitat.
The competition’s next phase is divided into two levels. The Structural Member Competition focuses on developing technologies needed to make structural components from indigenous materials and recyclables. The On-Site Habitat Competition will challenge teams to fabricate full-scale habitats. Both levels of the competition opened for registration on September 26 and each will award a cash prize of $1.1 million.
If you’re interested in Mars stuff, join the Mars Society in the US here and in the UK here or email [email protected]
It’s been a while, but now we’re in a position to write a follow-up article regarding the Mars Society in the UK. In July we reported about the Mars Society in the UK ceasing to function as you might expect.
If you’re an advocate of manned space missions, interested in Mars, astronomy, engineering, then the Mars Society is a great arena in which to digest and promote these topics with like-minded people. The Mars Society was created by Dr Robert Zubrin, and has the likes of Buzz Aldrin on its steering committee. See here for a reminder about what the Mars Society is about.
The Martian film is about to be released, we’re all waiting with baited breath until Monday to hear what stunning news NASA has to tell us about Mars, and we are now able to report that there will be a new Mars Society Chapter in the UK.
It’s inaugural meeting is taking place at 2pm on October 11th in Manchester at the Sharp Project just north of Manchester’s city centre. The venue is easily accessible from the M60, and details of location can be found here.
The existing situation had reached a point where it was unclear whether people were members of the society or not. No meetings were taking place, no AGM’s had taken place, in fact no discernible activity of any kind. This contrasts greatly with activity, not just of the Mars Society in it’s home of the USA, but also other chapters around the world, and in Europe. Take for example the Polish Mars
Society. There is huge amount going on in Poland, and indeed in other European countries, from hosting conferences and events, to the Rover Challenge: in other words, they are carrying out the work of the Mars Society.
You can visit the page for this new chapter at their Facebook group here. The group seems to have good ideas, and to be keen to follow the example of successful and dynamic societies from elsewhere, focusing on events, activity, and connections with research. Their page description says says
“This chapter of the Mars Society is based in Manchester simply because it’s principal founding officers are based there. Although meetings will take place in Manchester, the scope of the society is to engage people from anywhere, individuals and universities, to spread awareness of the Mars Society, Mars Direct, and the activities of the society in general.”
Sounds good to us! The founders of this new chapter are also keen to make the point that the chapter will be properly constituted, and the constitution adhered to with regular meetings, AGM’s, and a group of society officers. ” We’d love to hear from people who’d like to get involved.” says Rob Adlard, one of the new chapter’s founders “We’ve got a new website on the way, but people can contact us via the Facebook group until then.”
We contacted the Mars Society in the US, and Lucinda Offer, Executive Director of the Mars Society US had this to say
“The Mars Society U.S. is pleased to hear about the establishment of a new chapter in Manchester, England. We look forward to working with the new group to help expand Mars advocacy in the UK and encourage collaboration between the chapters in Manchester, London and Scotland”
“One of the original points of frustration was seeing UK universities exhibiting robotics programs at venues such as the UK Space Conference, knowing that none of them were engaged with anything like the Rover Challenge. Contrasting the high levels of engagement with European and US universities so actively involved in this kind of thing, it just seemed a shame that there is nothing like this currently in the UK. This is something we want to change, and would encourage anyone with uni connections to contact us to get involved”