Manufacturing Minute: Making It On Mars

In this episode, space farming and ice houses on Mars.

NASA’s discovery of water on Mars, as well as the new box office hit “The Martian,” has opened a dialogue on not just getting to Mars, but living there as well.

Bruce Bugbee, director of plants, soils and climate department at Utah State University, has spent the last decade with NASA on growing plants in space. Currently, they are focusing on salad crops, like lettuce and radishes, by using hydroponics, recycled water and large mirrors with fiber optics to focus enough light on the crop.

In August, six astronauts aboard the International Space Station were the first to both harvest and consume the crops.

But it’s not just food in the conversation – it’s also shelter. NASA crowned designers from Team Space Exploration Architecture and Clouds Architecture Office as the winners of the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

The Ice House design relies on the power of water, inspired by the recent findings, to create a pressurized habitat. The ice “shell” protects against radiation, and due to Mars’ chilly 67-below temperature, it won’t melt.


Will this research and innovation make it possible for us to sustain life on Mars? Can current technology compete with the challenges ahead?

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