INNOVATION

Why NASA Might Build Houses On Mars From Ice

'It presents a sound engineering solution.'

04/01/2017 1:38 AM AEDT | Updated 04/02/2017 8:50 PM AEDT

If you visit the Cotswolds, you’ll be surrounded by thatch. In Cornwall, you’ll spot a whole lot of slate.

And if you ever make a trip to Mars, you might find yourself among hundreds of pods built from ice.

Houses are usually made from the materials around them, and the latest living quarters proposed for the Red Planet are no exception. 

NASA/CLOUDS AO/SEARCH

Designed by Space Exploration Architecture, the new concept capitalises on Mars’ reserves of sub-surface ice, which are thought to contain as much water as Luke Superior.

A protective covering of ice would shield astronauts from the planet’s cosmic radiation, and could be scaled up almost infinitely.

“After a day dedicated to identifying needs, goals and constraints we rapidly assessed many crazy, out of the box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home design, which provides a sound engineering solution,” Kevin Vipavetz, the facilitator of a design session at NASA’s Langley Research Center that produced the idea in partnership with Clouds Architecture Officesaid in a press release.

Handout . / Reuters

The space agency is exploring a number of different designs. While the pod would take more than a year to fill with ice, the task could be conducted by robots before astronauts arrive.

The Mars Ice Home also benefits from being lightweight, and the water could be used to develop rocket fuel.

Kevin Kempton, the principal investigator on the project, praised the design: “After months of travel in space, when you first arrive at Mars and your new home is ready for you to move in, it will be a great day.”

NASA is working on a mission to send another rover to the Red Planet in 2020 and humans in 2030.

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