Apr 29, 2017 08:20 AM EDT
Astronauts planning to settle on Mars might just have the chance to build barracks out of the Martian dirt. The researchers at the University of California, San Diego, figured out how to make bricks in the Red Planet without the need to bring an oven for baking. Instead, all they need to do is to apply pressure to compact the soil.
The study was published in the journal "Scientific Reports" on April 27. According to Science Daily, NASA participated in the research too. Well, the experts are now under time pressure as President Donald Trump already signed the mission to send man to Mars by 2033.
Yu Qiao, a structural engineering professor at the University of California, San Diego, said that the people who dare to go to Mars are "incredibly brave". According to Quiao, they will be pioneers. With that in mind, the lead researcher of the recent study would be honored to be their "brick maker".
While suggestions to build habitats for manned missions on the Red Planet are not new, this is the first version the shows astronauts could do it with minimal resources to bring. For one thing, previous theories required either nuclear-powered brick kilns or chemistry to turn organic compounds into binding polymers.
Quiao's study only mandates two key procedures to make bricks out of Mars dirt simulant. One is to enclose the simulant in a flexible container, such as a rubber tube. Second is to compact the simulant at a "high enough" pressure. Particularly, per the UC San Diego News, the astronauts only need to apply strengths equivalent to a 10-pound hammer dropped from a height of one meter.
The process produces "small round soil pallets" that are roughly an inch tall and can be cut to brick shapes. Quiao's team believe the iron oxide, which makes the planet red, acts as biding agent. Moreover, the Martial bricks were proven to be stronger than steel-reinforced concrete on Earth.
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