Discussing current issues in engineering
NASA has recently turned to a team of experts in academia, including civil and structural engineers, to consider the feasibility of space habitats on the moon.
Ramesh Malla, a professor at the University of Connecticut, believes civil engineers will play a key role in designing space habitats because it’s similar to work they’ve been doing “since human civilization began.” Civil engineers are accustomed to addressing the challenges of building structures in various environments, which makes them especially suited to take the lead on these kinds of projects.
In the spring of 2019, NASA established new research institutes that plan to test out habitat prototypes, spacecrafts, robotic maintenance, and other aspects of space-life that could come in handy if life outside Earth becomes a reality. A NASA habitat challenge asked contestants to conceptualize and “build” a shelter to replicate what human shelters might look like in space. The winning prototype was 3-D printed and can be constructed by robots using materials indigenous to Mars. Researchers will have to contend with low gravity, harsh conditions, and other factors not usually considered when designing a typical building.
Thinking about human habitation on Mars and the moon might seem far-fetched for the near future but conceptualizing these kinds of habitats can actually still be useful. Many versatile designs can be adapted and used on Earth, as can other developments that arise out of this research.
For more information about our potential future on the moon, see the full article here on the ASCE website.
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