Want to experience Mars on EARTH? NASA-funded 3D-printed ‘pod’ will soon offer holidaymakers experience of interplanetary vacations of the future
- Tera is from the same design firm that was awarded $500,000 for NASA’S 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge
- It is built from a material at least 50 per cent stronger and more durable than concrete and can be composted
- Tera pods will be hired out to holiday-makers hoping to experience what sustainable life could be like on Mars
- Each stay will fund the firm’s mission to research and develop the renewable technologies of the future
A futuristic 3D-printed house that lets guests ‘experience Mars on Earth’ will soon offer you the chance to experience what an interplanetary vacation of the future may be like, its creators say.
Nestled in the woods of upstate New York along the Hudson River, Tera will be hired out to holiday-makers hoping to experience what sustainable life could be like on Mars.
‘Tera’ is the brainchild of AI SpaceFactory, a New York City design agency that was awarded $500,000 (£386,000) earlier this year for winning NASA’S 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge with its previous ‘Marsha’ habitat.
Each stay will be used to fund the mission of the firm behind its design, which hopes to research and develop the renewable and sustainable technologies of the future.
This technology will be used both here on Earth and, they say, will be one day form the basis of a sustainable colony on the red planet.
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A futuristic 3D-printed house that lets guests ‘experience Mars on Earth’ will soon offer you the chance to experience what an interplanetary vacation of the future may be like, its creators say. Nestled in the woods of upstate New York along the Hudson River, Tera will be hired out to holiday-makers hoping to experience what sustainable life could be like on Mars
Tera’s design and materials can be composted at the end of its life, bringing the out-of-this world, sustainable technology built for Mars back to Earth.
Tera was built from the same 3D printing technologies and compostable materials as Marsha for longterm, sustainable life on Mars.
Like its predecessor, the NASA-award-winning Martianhabitat Marhsa, Tera was constructed from from a 3D-printed biopolymer basalt composite, a material developed from crops like corn and sugar cane.
It was tested and validated by NASA as at minimum 50 per cent stronger and more durable than concrete.
Writing on the firm’s website, a spokesman said: ‘This material has the potential to be leaps and bounds more sustainable than traditional concrete and steel, leading to a future in which we can eliminate the building industry’s massive waste of unrecyclable materials.
‘It could transform the way we build on Earth – and save our planet. Each Tera will build on the last until we achieve highly autonomous structurally performing human-rated habitats.
‘Just like Marsha informed Tera, all the knowledge we gain from Tera will feed back into our extraterrestrial design and construction – ultimately enabling human life on Mars.’
Each stay at a pod will be used to fund the mission of the firm behind its design, which hopes to research and develop the renewable and sustainable technologies of the future. The technology used to build the pods will be used both here on Earth and, the firm behind it says, will be one day form the basis of a sustainable colony on the red planet
WHAT IS 3D PRINTING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
First invented in the 1980s by Chuck Hull, an engineer and physicist, 3D printing technology – also called additive manufacturing – is the process of making an object by depositing material, one layer at a time.
Similarly to how an inkjet printer adds individual dots of ink to form an image, a 3D printer adds material where it is needed, based on a digital file.
Many conventional manufacturing processes involved cutting away excess materials to make a part, and this can lead to wastage of up to 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) for every one pound of useful material, according to the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
By contrast, with some 3D printing processes about 98 per cent of the raw material is used in the finished part, and the method can be used to make small components using plastics and metal powders, with some experimenting with chocolate and other food, as well as biomaterials similar to human cells.
3D printers have been sued to manufacture everything from prosthetic limbs to robots, and the process follows these basic steps:
· Creating a 3D blueprint using computer-aided design (CAD) software
· Preparing the printer, including refilling the raw materials such as plastics, metal powders and binding solutions.
· Initiating the printing process via the machine, which builds the object.
· 3D printing processes can vary, but material extrusion is the most common, and it works like a glue gun: the printing material is heated until it liquefies and is extruded through the print nozzle
· Using information from the digital file, the design is split into two-dimensional cross-sections so the printers knows where to put the material
· The nozzle deposits the polymer in thin layers, often 0.1 millimetre (0.004 inches) thick.
· The polymer rapidly solidifies, bonding to the layer below before the build platform lowers and the print head adds another layer (depending on the object, the entire process can take anywhere from minutes to days.)
· After the printing is finished, every object requires some post-processing, ranging from unsticking the object from the build platform to removing support, to removing excess powders.
AI SpaceFactory’s Marhsa design picked up the top prize in NASA’s Mars Habitat challenge to build the first Mars dwelling prototype back in May.
The large pod-like cylinder made from natural, biodegradable materials that is naturally found on the Red Planet.
The innovative structure can shelter astronauts from harsh winds and solar radiation and is fully equipped with onsite labs, dormitories and fitness areas.
AI SpaceFactory constructed a model of a pod using automated 3D printing in the final phase of the US space agency’s challenge and was awarded $500,000 (£386,000).
It completed a large cylinder that could hold 1,200 gallons (5,500L) of waters using automated 3D-printing machines.
AI SpaceFactory’s Marhsa design picked up the top prize in NASA’s Mars Habitat challenge to build the first Mars dwelling prototype back in May. The large pod-like cylinder made from natural, biodegradable materials that is naturally found on the Red Planet (artist’s impression)
For these pods, the team used what they call a ‘Martian polymer’ that the firm says can be made from matter found or grown on Mars.
The polymer is used as a concrete substitute and has been hailed by the company as being a innovative form of building material.
AI SpaceFactory described it on its website as: ‘a superior tensile and compressive strength, extreme durability in freeze-thaw cycles, and enhanced ductility.
The company says NASA would need to send machines to Mars in advance of human astronauts to ‘harvest’ the basalt-composite from the Martian landscape.
This would provide the raw materials for robotic printers to then arrive to start onsite construction.
WHAT ARE NASA’S PLANS FOR A MANNED MISSION TO MARS IN THE 2030s?
Mars has become the next giant leap for mankind’s exploration of space.
But before humans get to the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps by returning to the moon for a year-long mission.
Details of a the mission in lunar orbit have been unveiled as part of a timeline of events leading to missions to Mars in the 2030s.
Nasa has outlined its four stage plan (pictured) which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at he Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington DC yesterday. This will entail multiple missions to the moon over coming decades
In May 2017, Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at Nasa, outlined the space agency’s four stage plan that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars, as well as its expected time-frame.
Phase one and two will involve multiple trips to lunar space, to allow for construction of a habitat which will provide a staging area for the journey.
The last piece of delivered hardware would be the actual Deep Space Transport vehicle that would later be used to carry a crew to Mars.
And a year-long simulation of life on Mars will be conducted in 2027.
Phase three and and four will begin after 2030 and will involve sustained crew expeditions to the Martian system and surface of Mars.
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