The cost of launching a satellite into orbit is enormous, so lifting everything needed for a temporary settlement to the Moon or Mars – such as brick, mortar, concrete and other building materials – is nearly uncountable. It is only magnified when thinking about what is needed to make a permanent presence in the other world.
With that logistical challenge in mind, researchers at the University of Manchester (UM) tried to approach the problem with a somewhat modern approach. It is one that they hope will be both achievable in the short term and sustainable in the long term.
In a study published this week in Materials Today Bio, researchers argue that a protein found in human blood — human serum albumin — bound to simulated Moon and Martian soil creates a biocomposite material that has a strength similar to concrete. Is.
In addition, you can fortify astrocrete (the name the authors gave to the novel material) by literally adding urine to the mix. Urea, a waste byproduct we excrete through urine, sweat and tears, adds significantly more compressive strength to the material, potentially up to 300%.
“Scientists are trying to develop viable technologies to produce materials like concrete on the surface of Mars, but we never stopped to think that the answer may lie in us,” said Dr. Alled, one of the UM team. Roberts said it worked. On the project, there is a statement announcing their findings.
Historically, animal blood has been used as a binding agent in mortars because it really worked. While those using the biological binding agent didn’t know the underlying mechanisms that make it work, the UM team studied it precisely and found that proteins in blood denaturing, also known as curds, form elaborate structures. that bind materials together.
“It’s exciting that a major challenge of the Space Age has found a solution based on inspiration from medieval technology,” Roberts said.
Analysis: Grounding in another world through blood, sweat, tears and urine
While this may sound like a novel solution for attracting local materials to build a Moon or Mars base, it is what explorers have always tried, for better or worse.
Formally known as in-situ resource utilization, we have usually referred to it historically as “living off land”, not just for food. Whenever we’ve explored a new territory, whether it’s ancient hunters and gatherers, Roman generals, European colonists, and now astronauts, we’ve always tried to build a new society in a new location with readily available materials. have trusted. over there.
Certainly, new settlers often brought things with them, but the Vikings did not bring the materials for their great halls and settlements in their long boats, setting up shop in England in the 300 years from 800 to 1066. He built them out of English wood and what England had, much to the dismay of the British.
Fortunately, there is no life on the Moon or Mars that would disrupt our existence by settling there, but any settlements that we make there will have a Moon or Mars character much more than they would any other. Will look like anything. Earth.
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