Courtesy NASA

Scientists at the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Fla., in collaboration with the University of Arizona, have designed an 18-foot-wide-by-18-foot-long tubular, inflatable greenhouse prototype suitable for growing food on Mars. The interior of the greenhouse creates a synthetic ecosystem that mimics Earth's environment: the carbon dioxide that astronauts exhale would be trapped and conveyed to the greenhouse, while the oxygen that the plants produced will be released into the astronauts' living quarters. Since the astronauts and plants would need to be shielded from radiation on the surface of Mars, the plants could use LEDs or captured solar light for the light that they require to grow. [Tech Times]

Google has teamed up with German power company E.On to expand its Project Sunroof mapping data software to allow users in Germany to determine if investing in solar panels for their residence is worthwhile. Until recently, Project Sunroof was only available in the U.S. Now, the project—which combines Google’s mapping data with information on individual residence sunlight exposure—covers about 40 percent of German homes, or around 7 million buildings. [Engadget]

In a series of 13 short conceptual videos, London–based digital design studio Universal Everything explores futuristic concepts for digital screens that may soon change our daily lives using emerging technologies such as "flexible displays, shape-shifting materials, and context-aware functionality," according to Universal Everything website.These concepts include a morphing building for which tangible pixels create movement on its exterior surface and form architectural elements such as a staircase and screens that are embedded into columns, twisting and changing form and color. [FastCo.Design]

Though the details are sparse, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Tesla co-founder and current CTO JB Straubel and head of special projects Andrew Stevenson are chief officers of an advanced materials recycling company called Redwood Materials. CB Insights was able to find a largely vacant teaser website for the company, which simply states: "Unlock the value of your materials. Advanced technology and process development for materials recycling, remanufacturing, and reuse." [CB Insights]

Digital Construction Platform (DCP), an invention from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research affiliate Steven Keating, is a 4-ton robot that can source local energy and adapt to the surrounding environment's conditions. DCP could use the energy to build a structure out of natural resources like dirt, ice, or even moon dust. Despite its weight, the solar-powered robot could be more feasible for full-scale application than 3D printers on site because DCP is much smaller than printers that currently used for construction. DCP is based on an Altec aerial-lift system with a Kuka robot arm laden with sensors that can measure topography and radiation. [MIT Mediated Matter]

Codman Square, Boston
Danilo Morales Codman Square, Boston

ICYMI: A new era of green certification programs aims to apply high-performance design practices beyond standalone buildings to entire communities. [ARCHITECT]

Desktop Metal’s latest products—3D printers designed to produce metal parts cheaply and quickly enough for widespread market use—are challenging the economics of mass production. Instead of outdoing other 3D printers, the Burlington, Mass.–based 3D printing company aims to discourage manufacturers from using traditional production methods that have been pivotal in this trillion-dollar industry. The metal 3D printing technology would enable engineers and material scientists to create parts with new functions, give designers more freedom, and produce metal parts at cost-efficient rates. [MIT Technology Review]