NYC firm designs 3D-printed Mars habitat

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(AI. SpaceFactory via NASA)

Life on Mars: if it isn't there already, it seems it'll soon be on its way. A NASA competition to design what humans will live in on the Red Planet just wrapped up. One of the winning teams comes from New York City: AI. SpaceFactory, an architecture and technology company.

AI. SpaceFactory took on the NASA challenge for a Mars habitat that has to be 3D printed. With the fuel cost of sending anything to Mars, it has to be built with materials found there.

Team leader Jeffrey Montes said the designers recreated elements found on Mars to develop their habitat, which is called Marsha.

One of the main challenges they had to deal with is how pressure works differently on Mars. If you're on Earth, the pressure is external—we really feel it as we move to the bottom of a pool. On Mars, the pressure is internal, like in a shaken can of soda. That is why their shapes are similar.

Forget the domes you see in movies. Marsha's four stories can house four "Marshans," I guess they'll be called. They'll live and work and play there for probably a really long time.

The habitat will even be built before humans arrive. The team at AI. SpaceFactory is designing a robot to be sent to Mars to 3D print Marsha ahead of time. Team Marsha will spend the next year tailoring a robot for a demonstration on Earth to see if NASA will send her to Mars.