Could Future Astronauts 3D Print Habitats Using Mars or Moon Soil?

Right now, there are dozens of theoretical proposals for how humans could eventually populate Mars (or the Moon), each as crazy as the next: Space elevator. Inflatables. Giant 3D printer.
But there’s something wonderful about watching these zany concepts emerge, each with its own unique logic. The latest? A plan to create cave-like dwellings for the one-way astronauts aboard Mars One.
Mars One, if you’ll remember, is the Dutch non-profit that made news this year when it put out a call for applications for potential astronauts interested in embarking on a long, one-way journey to the Red Planet. Back in January, Mars One’s pitch involved a series of nondescript “pods” that seemed to perch on the surface of the planet. One of the problems with building dwellings on the surface of Mars, though, is that it’s wanting for a magnetosphere—and thus, an atmosphere. Part of the challenge of “terraforming” the planet will be building up a new atmosphere.
Or, we could just go underground. That’s the concept behind this plan by Russian architects ZA. Here’s the bare bones version: A series of robots—equipped with the ability to dig—would identify weak areas in the Martian soil and carve them out. Then, using a process similar to that of structural 3D printing, these robots would “print” interior structures using the leftover basalt—the most common soil on Mars. “This material is already in use in the aerospace and automotive industries,” architect Arina Ageeva told Dezeen. “It is stronger and lighter than steel, easier to operate, fireproof and it does not corrode.”