colonial prints


Foster + Partners extend their space concepts from the moon to Mars

With the news that flowing water has been discovered on Mars, it seemed apt to post this fantastic concept for 3D-printed Martian habitats. Built entirely by automated machines using regolith harvested from the surface, these habitats hold a strong similarity to those imagined in a previous project by Foster and his team (which I previously posted here). Three kinds of robots would be dropped onto the surface of the red planet - one to dig the craters for the pods to rest in, one to gather and process the regolith used in construction, and a third to use microwaves to fuse the materials in place. Like the moon project, each habitat has a prefab core that is parachuted in, and this printed covering is created around as a protective shell. 

More at: dezeen


The top Three of NASA’s 3D-Printed Mars Habitat Contest

Could future Mars astronauts live in places like that? Possibly.
NASA awarded the three winners of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition on Sept. 27. In the first stage the participants had to develop architectural concepts to imagine what habitats on Mars might look like using 3D printing and in-situ resources.

The first prize went to Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office for the “Mars Ice House” design, which looks like a translucent pyramid and “in which the mind and body will not just survive, but thrive”. It would be built of Martian ice and serve as a radiation shield, protecting the lander habitat and gardens inside it.

Team Gamma got the second place for its distributed functionality of three inflatable modules to find a suitable location and a protective shield around it, which the habitats would be supported by.
The third place, LavaHive, is a modular design using a proposed novel ‘lava-casting’ construction technique as well as utilizing recycled spacecraft materials and structures.

Teams were judged on many factors, including architectural concept, design approach, habitability, innovation, functionality, Mars site selection and 3D print constructability. The 30 highest-scoring entries with descriptions are here.

This is a page from a 1755 copy of Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard’s Almanac. Within the almanac’s that Franklin published he would often hide quotes and sayings amongst the mundaneness of the almanac. In this case the hidden message reads:

“Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.”


Nature to illuminate research

Here you can see fireflies, a type of beetle that glows.

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light from enzymes called luciferases. In nature, many organisms such as jellyfish and fireflies ‘glow’ using these enzymes. 

In scientific research, bioluminescent proteins are used to monitor changes to cells. 

In the bottom images around 7000 bacterial colonies have been printed on an agar plate.The bacteria have been genetically engineered to display the bioluminescent enzyme from the firefly Photinus pyralis

The images were taken with a sensitive camera which can detect the light output from luciferase in each colony. The light output of different types of luciferase can be analysed to discover which ones have enhanced characteristics that could be used in research.

Image credits: Terry Priest, s58y, Cassandra Stowe