After NASA's discovery of on Mars this week, the possibility of packing up, and moving to the Red Planet seems more real than ever before. That makes the announcement of NASA and America Makes' 3D Centennial Challenge Mars Habitat Competition winner all the more poignant.
The competition asked entrants to design a shelter that could accommodate four astronauts and that could be 3D printed using materials found on Mars. Yeah, no small feat. Dubbed Ice House, the winning concept is a joint project by New York-based firms Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office.
As the name suggests, the design would be made from ice, using it to form a protective shell in which astronauts could find refuge from the planet's harsh climate – temperatures can drop as low as -238° Fahrenheit. Additionally, an ice shelter would block ultraviolet solar and galactic gamma radiation from reaching the explorers, while still allowing light into the space.
Inside, the studios approached the design from a more practical standpoint, with crew comfort and overall well being as key factors. They equipped the station with an exercise area, sleeping quarters, a laboratory, a kitchen, and even a lush vertical garden.
While this prototype is meant for working scientists and astronauts, it's an indication of what homes on Mars could look like . It's no Zenon Girl of the 21st Century space station, but it definitely rivals Dubai for the most mind-bending design of the year.