With the advent of technologies such as 3D printers that can operate in space and genetically engineered brick-forming bacteria, the idea of building a colony of Mars no longer seem so far-fetched. The German firm, ZA Architects is proposing plans for a large, underground network of caverns to begin the population of the Red Planet. Relying primarily on robots, the machines will pave the way for humans to eventually live on Earth's neighbor.
While ZA Architects acknowledges that current technologies are not sufficient to carry out their plans, they believe that robotics will advance enough by 2023 to fabricate the underground dwellings. In the first stage, a rocket would be sent to Mars carrying robots that would start by carving large caverns in the basalt bedrock. The machines would choose areas where the basalt had cooled to form hexagonal columns, and the weakest spots would be removed to form hollow spaces. After making a cathedral-like interior, the robots would weave webs of basalt fibers to form floors and differentiate levels.
Once the overall shell is completed, an astronaut mission will be sent to Mars. There, humans will secure an oxygen and water supply by fabricating a soil glacier and basalt processing plant. Robots would ring the facility bedrock to create basalt wool, a material that is good for insulation and for stabilizing structures. Martian soil will also be used to cultivate crops such as asparagus to provide food for the colony.
ZA Architects hopes that their design would make the colony largely independent of deliveries from Earth. They cite the Mars One project as in inspiration for their designs. As science advances, architects join engineers in working towards reaching the furthest frontiers of exploration.