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NASA reveals the latest winning ideas for buildings on Mars

NASA announced the five winners of the latest phase of its 3D-Printing Habitat Competition for designing the structures to be used by humans on Mars.

First prize winner in NASA's Mars design project

Living on Mars is a dream long-held by science fiction writers and many would-be space explorers. Of course, we have to get there first. NASA’s plans remain robotic for now, with new rovers (and a Mars Helicopter) starting in 2020. The White House has asked NASA to return to the moon in order to, among other things, develop a launch facility for a human Mars mission. NASA’s own suspicion is that we’ll eventually travel to Mars aboard their Space Launch System rocket platform. Yet, assuming we do someday send people to populate the red planet, what kind of Mars-friendly structures will they need?


NASA has been looking for an answer to this question and has been running, along with Bradley University and other partners, a three-stage, multimillion-dollar 3D-Printed Habitat Competition to find it. The space agency has just announced five winning teams for the third stage’s first construction level in which they designed innovative Mars habitats and created virtual models of the structures.

The winners will share the level’s $100,000 prize:

  1. Team Zopherus of Rogers, Arkansas — $20,957.95
  2. AI. SpaceFactory of New York — $20,957.24
  3. Kahn-Yates of Jackson, Mississippi — $20,622.74
  4. SEArch+/Apis Cor of New York — $19,580.97
  5. Northwestern University of Evanston, Illinois — $17,881.10

Creativity, architectural know-how, and a grasp of the Martian environment are required to meet a Mars mission’s unique challenges. For one thing, the planet is inhospitable — extremely hot and cold, for example — and completely lacks any supporting infrastructure for the buildings, so they need to be hardy and self-sufficient. In addition, getting traditional building materials all the way to Mars is impractical at best and maybe impossible — this is why NASA is betting on 3D-printing as the most practical means of fabricating Martian structures.

First Place: Team Zopherus

2nd Place: AI. SpaceFactory

3rd Place: Kahn-Yates

4th Place: SEArch+/Apis Cor

5th Place: Northwestern University

Planning ahead

Who knows when humans will actually get to Mars. Maybe by then, we’ll simply be able to replicate our structures a la Star Trek. Still, it’s not unlikely that all this advance planning and thinking will ultimately illuminate the underlying architectural solutions that will be required for life on the red planet. Meanwhile, we can use our imaginations to picture what living in each of these dazzling structure might be like after a hard day in the searing Martian sun, or during a bone-chilling red-planet night.

Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
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Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

Videos
  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

COVID-19 brain study to explore long-term effects of the virus

A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.

Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.

Coronavirus
  • The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
  • Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
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Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

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