In May 2015, NASA announced its 3D Printed Habitat competition, challenging American citizens to design and build a habitat for deep space exploration. Even though they wouldn’t be allowed to enter, French 3D-printing firm Fabulous took up the challenge and have now proposed a housing prototype for life on Mars, called Sfero – a contraction of sphere, iron and water.
The dome-like shelter has an upstairs and a downstairs, but the downstairs half is submerged underground. Inside features include an indoor garden, suspended beds, a workspace and a spiral staircase.
Fabulous employed a team of specialists including scientists, architects, 3D printing and imaging experts to collaborate on the pilot project. The main objective for the team was to create a sustainable habitat that would make use of the planet’s resources and landscape.
They decided to use iron oxide, a powdery, chemical compound found in abundance on Mars, as the 3D-printing material. Two robotic arms extending from the dome are intended to harvest the mineral compound, which would be fused together and printed out piece by piece.
The arms are also designed to search for permafrost – below-freezing soil – that would be melted down to use as a protective water pocket shell, which would act as a shield against solar radiation.