Page 22 - Engineering Penn State Magazine: Spring/Summer 2019
P. 22

Designing Sustainable Homes on
Mars and
by Leon Valsechi
Above: Maryam Hojati, Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Architecture; Nate Watson, College of Engineering; Shadi Nazarian, College of Arts and Architecture; Jose Duarte, College of Arts and Architecture; and Negar Ashrafi, College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State researchers are developing 3D-printed building technology that could be used for NASA’s space exploration projects and impact the future of housing on Earth.
Almost 34 million miles from Earth, Mars exists as the solar system’s next frontier for human space exploration. A team of Penn State researchers has accepted NASA’s challenge of designing an autonomous system capable of creating
a human shelter on the red planet using 3D-printing technology. With the focus of the project on Mars, perhaps the most profound application of their work is on Earth.
Consisting of students and faculty representing the Colleges of Arts and Architecture, Engineering, Agricultural Sciences, and the Materials Research Institute, the team’s breakthroughs have opened the possibility to applying the technology to create sustainable housing options that could revolutionize the construction industry and address larger societal issues such as homelessness.
Building Tomorrow, Layer by Layer
For nearly two years, the team has been competing
in NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, a Centennial Challenges competition. The four-phase competition requires entrants to develop advanced 3D-printing technology to produce a structurally sound habitat that can be 3D-printed by NASA’s space explorers on Mars and beyond.

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