As we all know, being stuck here in the third “rock” from the Sun forever is unlikely to go down well for the long-term survival of our species. Sooner or later, an extinction level event will eventually seal our fate on Earth. If the humankind wants to avoid following the lead of the (non-avian) dinosaurs into oblivion, it has no other way but to establish itself as a multi-planetary species.
That’s precisely what most proponents of a self-sustainable human colony on Mars have in mind when they push for the idea. However, to turn this idea into reality, scientists must first cross quite a few hurdles, including the time and distance it would take to supply tons and tons of resources and materials for building human settlements on the Red Planet.
In order to solve that problem, a group of researchers has now invented a way to turn Martian soil into bricks without baking or adding extra ingredients. Instead, they will have to apply sufficient amount of pressure to compress the soil and give it sufficient strength and endurance.
The study was funded by NASA and the team of engineers who have accomplished this feat is from the University of San Diego, NewsWeek reports.
The discovery of the new brick-making method, however, was accidental. Toward the beginning of the study, the engineers were basically trying the lower the amount of polymers needed to make bricks out of the Martian soil. However, to their surprise, the team soon learned that none of that was actually required to produce brick.
According to those involved in the project, there are a couple of key steps to turning Martian soil into bricks without requiring any baking, additional additives, or heat. During the first step, the astronauts would require surrounding the simulant in a flexible enclosure. The engineered deployed a rubber tube for the purpose of the study.
In the follow-up step, the simulant would be compressed under tremendous pressure. For some perspective, in order to make bricks out of Martian soil, pressure roughly equivalent to dropping a 10-pound hammer from a height of 1-meter would be needed.
The bricks thus produced, the team claims, will be stronger that steel-reinforced concrete.
You can find the details of the study in the journal Scientific Reports Apr 27, 2017, issue