Skip bricks and steel. If you're building a home on Mars, you choose ice.
Anyone else see the movie The Martian and love it? It's the fictional story of an astronaut (Matt Damon) who struggles to survive after being inadvertently left on Mars.
Well, life may just be imitating art, as there's now a real plan to house visitors on Mars. NASA has a concept for a new building that it believes might someday house visiting astronauts on the planet, perhaps as soon as 2030, according to an article in Huffington Post. The Mars "Ice Home," so it’s dubbed, is a fairly low-tech structure that relies on a protective coating of ice to shield astronauts from harmful cosmic radiation while also being infinitely scalable. The ice would come from Mars itself—apparently there are massive ice reserves just beneath the planet’s surface.
Erecting an Ice Home would be relatively easy, the article notes. The structure would essentially be an inflatable ring surrounded by a shell of water ice. As a result, the structure could be deployed using robots and filled with water before any human touches down on the plant. Even better, the NASA research found that the water used in the Ice Home could potentially be converted to rocket fuel, which means the structure could double as a storage tank for incoming crews.
And, given that water is hydrogen rich, it turns out to be a perfect shielding material to combat galactic cosmic rays. (Who knew?)