London: French firm Fabulous has designed a conceptual shelter for astronauts on Mars that would be 3D-printed on the Red Planet using locally-available materials.
Resembling an igloo, the shelter - called Sfero - would be partially buried beneath the ground, gizmag.com reported.
Access to the shelter would be through a long corridor, which will contain an airlock.
The interior will comprise three floors. The uppermost floor, which looks more like a mezzanine, measures just 32 sq. ft. and is given over totally to growing foodstuffs, while the next floor down measures 312 sq. ft. and comprises a work area and bathroom.
The lowermost floor measures 40 sq. m (430 sq. ft.), and contains sleeping quarters. The occupants would navigate between each floor by a spiral staircase.
Fabulous envisions that the Red Planet's own substrata could be used as a raw material for 3D printing.
As per the concept, the process involves a central mast that would extract iron from the planet's soil and rock, and also seek out permafrost to turn into water and use as insulation between the structure's inner and outer shell, reducing the effects of solar radiation.
According to the firm: "The central pole is buried in the Martian soil by drilling. The objective is to bury several metres to build solid foundations and also to seek the permafrost that will be liquefied for feeding the aqueous pocket."
The firm imagines the shelter being tested in California's Mojave Desert or somewhere in Hawaii, while the Gale Crater is slated as the shelter's final Mars location.
The project has been created in response to NASA's call for designs for 3D-printed habitats for Mars.