The field of 3D printing is relatively new but has made some major breakthroughs in a short period of time. The biggest one might be this idea being proposed by the French firm Fabulous called the Sfero. The Sfero is a shelter that is to be built on Mars using only local elements.
The Sfero looks like a futuristic igloo from the outside with a long entrance corridor equipped with air locks and three levels of accommodation. The top most level is the smallest, measuring only 3 sq.m. and is solely for growing food. The middle level is the working area which covers 29 sq.m of space and contains a large space for work and a bathroom. The basement or the lowest level would be underground and is the largest of the three levels, measuring 40 sq.m. in area. It hosts the sleeping quarters. These floor levels are connected via a spiral staircase.
The material used for its printing will be extracted from the Red Planet itself. According to the firm, a central pole will be planted deep into Martian soil to extract raw material for the structure. Several meters of the drill would be buried under the surface to seek permafrost that will be liquefied for the aqueous pocket. The two robot arms will be deployed, one to separate iron from the soil and the other for metal 3D printing for housing.
However, all this is in theory and it is not entirely clear as to how all this will actually work and whether such separation and extraction of material will even be possible on Mars. But the basic idea remains involving a central mast to extract iron from the planet’s soil and seek out permafrost to turn into water. This water will provide insulation to the inner area and reduce the effects of solar radiation.
This shelter will most probably be tested either in the Mojave Desert in California or somewhere in Hawaii. It will be placed in the Gale Crater on Mars. However, all this seems pretty far-fetched and this concept is most certainly not going to be materialized as the amount of resources required just deem this whole process unfeasible. But designs and innovations like this may actually hold the answer to create an actual habitable shelter for astronauts on other planets, like the 3D printed Moon Base being considered by the European Space Agency.