NASA Just Released its Stunning New Concept for Ice Homes on Mars

January 3, 2017 | Kelly Tatera

mars ice homes
An artist's rendering of the Mars Ice Home concept.
Photo credit: NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch

The futuristic ‘Mars Ice Home’ would protect astronauts from extreme temperatures and high-energy radiation on the Red Planet.

With NASA’s plans to send astronauts up to Mars sometime in the 2030s and Elon Musk’s ambitious goal of sending humans to the Red Planet by 2025, there’s a lot to sort out in the meantime.

One of the major obstacles is figuring out how to provide safe living quarters for the planet’s first brave astronauts. Unsurprisingly, NASA is on the ball.

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Just a few days ago, NASA released its impressive new concept for homes on Mars, with an unlikely material proposed as its building blocks: ice.

Essentially, the idea involves covering inflatable domes in shells of ice, which would, in theory, enable astronauts to live and work with protection from Mars’ extreme temperatures and high-energy radiation. Since ice is rich in hydrogen, it acts as a shield against these harmful rays.

“The Mars Ice Home design has several advantages that make it an appealing concept,” Eric Gillard writes in a press release for NASA. “It is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew arrives.”

"It incorporates materials extracted from Mars, and because water in the Ice Home could potentially be converted to rocket fuel for the Mars Ascent Vehicle, the structure itself doubles as a storage tank that can be refilled for the next crew.”

From an advantageous style point, the proposed materials for the Ice Home are translucent, enabling astronauts to be immersed in the outside daylight instead of living in a cave-like home.

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The designers and architects have also considered a number of other features for the Mars home, like a flexible workspace where astronauts could work on robotic equipment without needing to wear a pressure suit. Additionally, a layer of carbon dioxide gas would be used as an insulation between the thick ice encasement and the living space, allowing astronauts to manage temperatures inside the Ice Home.

Although the Mars Ice Home is still in the conceptual phase, it looks like a promising solution to many of the problems that stand in the way of keeping astronauts alive on Mars.

As Mars Ice Home principal investigator Kevin Kempton concludes, "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.”

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