Mars Ice House wins the first prize in NASA’s Mars Habitat contest

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Mars Ice House wins the first prize in NASA's Mars Habitat contest
The first-place award of $25,000 for NASA's in 3D Printed Habitat Challenge went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office of New York

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Mars Ice House wins the first prize in NASA's Mars Habitat contest
The first-place award of $25,000 for NASA’s in 3D Printed Habitat Challenge went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office of New York

In May, NASA announced the launch of a $2.25 million competition to design and build a 3D-printed habitat for space exploration. Now, the space agency has awarded two teams a total of $40,000 in the first stage of the challenge, with the first-place award of $25,000 going to a “Mars Ice House” — a multi-layered pressurized shell of ice that encloses a habitat and gardens.

“With water as the core resource for future outposts on extraterrestrial bodies, NASA has taken a ‘follow the water’ approach to exploration; Ice House extends that concept to construction,” the project’s website explains. “The architecture of Ice House celebrates the presence of a human habitat as a beacon of light on the Martian surface. The design emerged from an imperative to bring light to the interior and to create visual connections to the landscape beyond, allowing the mind as well as the body to thrive.”

While allowing natural light to enter the habitat, the structure — designed by the Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office — also utilizes water-ice’s ability to act as a shield against harmful radiation. []

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