General, Research, Technology

What materials can be used to build houses on Mars?

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is veryhopes humans will travel to the planet Mars in the next ten years. The Starship, adapted for a long flight, is already in development, but scientists have not yet decided where exactly the first colonists of the Red Planet will live. After all, if people have to stay there for a long time to conduct research, they will not be able to stay in the ship's capsule all the time. In 2018, the space agency NASA held a competition for the best design for a Martian dwelling. The participants offered many interesting options and Marsha turned out to be one of the best. These houses are cylindrical structures suitable for human habitation. But how to build them if there is not a single brick on Mars? Since transporting materials to build Martian homes can be very expensive, scientists have begun looking for building materials right on Mars. They do not exist in their pure form, but to create durable houses on an alien planet not as difficult as it might seem.

Marsha structures on the surface of the Red Planet

Construction on Mars

About what materials can be used forbuilding houses on Mars, was reported in the scientific journal Public Library of Science One. The surface of Mars is covered with weathered soil over millions of years, referred to as regolith... To create at least some semblance of himbricks, water is needed, and scientists have not yet been able to find its obvious sources. In addition, now people can form materials suitable for building houses only under terrestrial conditions. And on Mars, completely different rules apply, so scientists need to come up with a way to create "artificial stones" and their analogues.

The surface of Mars through the eyes of the Curiosity spacecraft

Recently, an interesting solution to this problem was proposed by scientists from Singapore. They suggested that the Martian regolith could be made more malleable by mixing it with chitosan... This is the name of the substance that can be obtained from chitin, which is the main componentshells of shrimp, crabs and some insects. Chitosan can be obtained by removing the so-called acyl from chitin, which gives it strength. Scientists are sure that chitosan can be mined directly on Mars, but keeping insects and crustaceans there can be problematic. However, containers with this component can be sent to a distant planet inside cargo ships. They will obviously be lighter than bricks.

Hotozan is obtained from the chitinous cover of shrimp similar creatures.

See also: How much does it cost to build a city on Mars?

Insect houses on Mars

To test if the chitosan mixture is reallyand regolith is suitable for creating houses, scientists conducted an experiment. Since they do not have soil from Mars at their disposal, they used a material with similar properties. The process of creating a "Martian" building material consists of just two steps:

  • extracted from the chitinous cover of animals chitosan dissolves in one percent acetic acid;
  • received solution mixes with regolith in a ratio somewhere between 1:75 and 1: 100 - this is how the resulting material acquires the best properties.

The resulting material was named biolite. Scientists tried to create a miniatureversion of the aforementioned Marsha house. True, it was not created from scratch. First, the three components were 3D printed and then glued together using biolite. It turned out quite well, so we can assume that the houses of the future colonists of Mars will look like this.

You can read about how else Martian dwellings may look on our channel on Yandex.Zen!

Also, the researchers found out that from bioliteyou can create working tools. They poured it into a wrench shape. After hardening, the tool was able to tighten the M5 bolt, which is most commonly used in space technology. Also, it turned out from biolite to make figures in the form of an astronaut and a cube from the computer game Portal.

Biolite wrench

In another experiment, new materialused to seal a hole in a metal pipe. Scientists made a hole in a 12.5mm pipe and covered it with biolite. It filled the hole with itself and locked itself firmly in place. Scientists tested the pipe for leaks after a few weeks and still did not notice a leak. Also, biolite can bind different materials together - in general, it can be used for completely different purposes.

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Mushroom houses on Mars

Another way to build houses on MarsNew Atlas recently reported. Back in 2018, NASA researchers realized that some structures could be built from mushrooms. The essence of the technology is that first, people build a primitive frame, and then grow a mycelium under it, which winds around the structure and takes its shape. When the structure takes its final form, the mushrooms can be heat treated and made clean and dry.

In 2018, researchers from NASA were able to grow a "chair" from mushrooms. It looks rough and scary, but the technology can be improved in the future.

The image above shows that the structures frommushrooms look creepy. Scientists want to make the "mushroom" houses on Mars consist of three words. The first is planned to be made from mushrooms - this is the base. They want to make the second layer from cyanobacteria, which absorb sunlight and release substances vital for fungi. The third layer would be nice to make of ice, which provides cyanobacteria with water and protects the structure from cosmic radiation. However, they did not specify where to get so much water on Mars and how to prevent ice melting. To a greater extent, tree houses are suitable for colder planets.

Do you know why scientists believe that "people of the future" should live in giant mushroom houses?

As you can see, humanity is preparing torelocation to Mars. But before that, the planet must be carefully studied. To accomplish this task, the Perseverance apparatus was recently sent there - what exactly it will do there, you can read in this material.