Ready, set….Mars! Imagining life on the Red Planet

Launched last summer by HP and a host of partners including NVIDIA, HP’s Mars Home Planet is a yearlong co-creation project with one goal — to imagine what life might be like for a city of one million people on Mars. The project’s first competition, which ended in November, was designed to get participants’ creative juices going. And boy, did it ever — entrants submitted sophisticated, detailed conceptual designs for how people might live, raise food and get around on Mars.

For round two the difficulty was ramped up significantly. In addition to coming up with designs, participants had to create 3D models of their submissions using Autodesk software (which Autodesk provided as free-trial copies). The science and engineering of the submissions also had to hew to the physical realities of the Red Planet, from its lower gravitational force to its higher levels of radiation.

Now, it’s all systems go for the third round of Mars Home Planet: the Rendering Challenge. Participants will be asked to create still, animated, real-time or VR renderings depicting a smart city or region on Mars for a million people. Participants will have access to select submissions from the previous two challenges. Categories for the Rendering Challenge are divided into either Architecture/Civil Engineering or Vehicles/Mechanical Engineering. Prizes will be awarded in ten categories and submissions will be accepted until July 6, 2018.

All this leads up to the final phase – a virtual reality (VR) experience created by experts from Technicolor that will feature some of the winning content. The VR experience, built in Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, will be unveiled to the public in August.

A bounty of engineering skill and innovative thinking

A solar-field construction vehicle with nimble robot arms that piece together solar cells. Vertical turbines that harness the energy of dust storms — and shield nearby cities from their force. A compact settlement built underground in rust-red soil, capped by series of stunning atriums.

Those are just a few of the winning entries that wowed the judges of the second round of HP’s Mars Home Planet challenge, including star architect Daniel Libeskind; Dr. Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society; and Dr. Sanjay Vijendran of the Mars Mission for the European Space Agency.

“The entries are mind-bending,” says Sean Young, HP’s worldwide segment manager for product development and AEC. “Some are so beautiful and so well thought out that it makes you want to go live on Mars.”


Courtesy of HP

One of the Mars Home Planet contest winners designed wind turbines that reap energy from dust storms—and provide a protective shield for settlements.

Far out dune runner

Igor Sobolevsky, a project industrial designer at Stanley Black & Decker in Baltimore, who won in the vehicle-design category, says he happily holed up at home for a month to work on his submission. “One of my passions is physics and space exploration — painting a vision of what all these potential developments and technologies could be,” says Sobolevsky. “So when I saw this contest, I decided to go all in.”


The award-winning Dune Runner is an electric car that transports goods and people across Mars in style.

Sobolevsky designed the Dune Runner, a muscular yet sleek electric truck for transporting Martian citizens and goods in an imaginary colony 50 years from now. Equipped with solar arrays and manipulator robot arms that can move payloads on and off the truck, the Dune Runner can climb steep Martian surfaces and work nonstop for up to 12 hours.

The possibilities are endless, especially with support from new Rendering Challenge partners CG Architect, V-Ray by Chaos Group, Allegorithmic and Unreal Studio. Trial downloads are available fromChaos Group as well as 7 free materials on Substance Source. Enter the Rendering Challenge now – and don’t miss out on your chance to reinvent life on Mars!

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