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Will Mars colonists live in robot-dug caves like these?

Fancy hunkering down in a basalt cavern on the Red Planet? On the menu in this vision by a German architecture firm: lots of asparagus.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
Mars cave
Otherworldly web: The caves would feature basalt fibers and natural hexagonal shapes. ZA Architects

As they say, everything old is new again. That would be an especially delicious irony if future humans once again become cavemen -- on Mars.

A vision for troglodyte existence put forth by Germany's ZA Architects calls for astronauts to live in caverns under the surface of Mars that would be dug out by solar-powered robots.

This bold concept imagines living underground in tunnels chiseled from basalt that naturally forms in hexagonal shapes. Just imagine the house parties.

"Curiosity sooner or later will bring [humans] to Mars, and wouldn't it be nice to have [a] permanent station to explore it?" Arina Ageeva of ZA Architects was quoted by Dezeen as saying. "It seems pretty logical to use caves as the main protective structure of the colony."

The game plan would be this: advance parties of robots that have yet to be invented are sent to Mars prior to human colonization with Mars One or some other scheme.

Powered by solar energy, the robots start digging out caverns in the basalt bedrock. They would choose an area where the basalt has formed into hexagonal columns after lava quickly cooled.

The weaker columns would be drilled out to create a high-ceilinged subterranean void. Then comes the bots' next trick: weaving spiderweb-like floors from basalt fibers.

Your underground home on Mars (pictures)

See all photos

Created by extruding molten basalt, basalt fibers would be cheaper and more versatile then carbon fibers, according to Ageeva, who noted the strength and durability of the material.

After a long and perilous journey, intrepid human colonists would land to find their cave-home ready for habitation.

Along with collaborators Dmitry Zhuikov and Krassimir Krastev, Ageeva points out that the Martian soil seems to have sufficient nutrients to support crops such as asparagus. Scientists studying findings by the Pheonix Mars Lander reported that possibility five years ago.

As if the bleak Martian terrain weren't bad enough, living in a hole in the ground and subsisting on asparagus or other space food would certainly give me the Red Planet blues.

But that's just me. What do you think? Would you like a cave home on Mars? Check out more pics of the concept in the gallery above and sound off in the comments below.

(Via PSFK)