NASA Research

NASA Research


USC Schools of Architecture and Engineering join forces on NASA research award for Lunar and Martian construction using 3D printing and form finding technologies.


USC professors have won a highly prestigious NASA research award to develop new robotic construction technologies for building structures on the Moon and Mars. Professors Behrokh Khoshnevis (Industrial Engineering), Anders Carlson (Architecture), Neil Leach (Architecture) and Madhu Thangavelu (Astronautics) have been awarded a Phase 2 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts [NIAC] research award for a project entitled, 'ISRU Based Robotic Construction Technologies for Lunar and Martian Infrastructure'. The project is based on the concept of 'In Situ Resource Utilization' [ISRU], and seeks to use resources readily available on the Moon and Mars as construction materials for novel robotic construction technologies in order to build infrastructure components such as roads, landing pads, blast walls and storage spaces. The project builds upon the success of an earlier NIAC Phase 1 award won by the team for a project entitled, 'Contour Crafting Simulation Plan for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure'.


Assistant Professor Anders Carlson is Co-PI on the project. He is examining the environmental variables affecting infrastructure design including extreme thermal cycling, radiation, micrometeorite impacts, vacuum, and moon or Mars gravity. Integrated design is being investigated to understand the importance of each environmental constraint and its comparison to design on earth. His focus is on assessing the viability of different structural forms influenced by the Lunar and Martian environments, construction methods and sequencing, and heat transfer. The research will rely on informed parametric design to conduct optimal form-finding based on environmentally imposed constraints and various competing objectives including material processing, transport and quantity.


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