NASA has plans to put humans on Mars in the 2030s or 2040s, and the private company Mars One is already interviewing applicants to for its one-way trip to the Red Planet. But a couple of crucial questions remain. One is, How do we get there? And another is, How the heck will we survive once we’re there?
Mars is a pretty hostile environment. Astronauts who go there will need to contend with the lack of oxygen, high radiation levels, dust storms, and temperatures that average out at 76 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Over the years, NASA has tested out a few designs for Martian habitats, but this year the space agency teamed up with MakerBot to challenge anyone and everyone to come up with a creative solution.
The winners of the Mars Base Challenge aren’t engineering or aerospace experts, so the designs aren’t necessarily realistic, and they probably won’t ever be built to scale. But it’s still fun to think about what life on Mars could be like. Here’s what an imaginary real estate agent might say about the three winning designs.
This fabulous 2-bedroom, 2-bath ranch-style dwelling includes a garden, laundry, and decompression chamber. The recently renovated roof is shingled in depleted uranium panels that will shield your family from 99.9 percent of damaging radiation, while 2.5-foot thick walls help you save on energy bills during those harsh Martian winters. This home’s beehive-like, hexagonal shape provides structural support against strong winds, and will surely make the whole neighborhood buzz with excitement.
This gorgeous three-story Metropolis-style home includes a garage for your all-terrain vehicle AND a landing dock for shuttles. A collector on the roof harvests water vapor from the Martian atmosphere, and the home’s three greenhouses ensure you’ll always have food to eat and oxygen to breathe.
Drawing inspiration from the Great Pyramids of Egypt, this glass-paneled home lets in loads of Martian sunlight and boasts a large aquaponics facility for growing food. A mirrored solar collector provides energy and heat, with a small nuclear generator in the basement for backup.
Congratulations to the finalists! All of the competing designs’ blueprints are downloadable from the Thingiverse, so if you’ve got a 3-D printer you can build an entire Martian village in your living room.