When humans finally go to live on Mars, what will our houses look like? Dome-like earthen shelters, if architecture firm Foster + Partners has anything to do with it. In a proposal for the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, organized by AmericaMakes and NASA, the firm imagines modular dwellings made from the planet’s soil that will be built with “very little human input.”
The plan is for three different types of semi-autonomous robots–pre-programmed for digging, melting, and transporting–to parachute to Mars and build the settlements before astronauts arrive. They will use microwaves to fuse together the regolith, Mars’s loose, rocky soil to create a building material that will act as a permanent shield against radiation and extreme temperatures. The resulting connected, geodesic dome-shaped houses are designed to have private and communal spaces, and the interiors will be full of virtual environments to break up the monotony of life indoors.