If NASA is going to put humans on Mars and other distant worlds, it's going to need a place for explorers to stay -- and it wants your help building those extraterrestrial homes. The agency has launched the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, a competition to develop the best artificial housing for space exploration. The first phase of the challenge will award a $50,000 prize based on pure architectural merits, while a second will hand out two $1.1 million prizes for those who figure out how to manufacture individual components and whole shelters from "indigenous materials," such as rocky soil. NASA hopes that the winning ideas will make it possible to settle alien terrain without bringing mountains of Earth-made construction supplies. That would not only let crews pack light, but fix their own abodes if something goes wrong millions of miles from Earth.
[Image credit: ESA/Foster + Partners]