Using chitin, a bioinspired material, to build equipment and shelters on Mars


A picture of a Martian. Credit: Xavier G. Fernandez, 2020. CC-BY

A simple manufacturing technology based on chitin, one of the most ubiquitous organic polymers on Earth, can be used to build equipment and shelters on Mars, a study published on 16 September in the Open-Access Journal accordingly one more By Javier Fernandez, of Singapore Technology and Design, and colleagues.


With plans to reenter the lunar surface and eventually send a crew mission to Mars, future space exploration missions have the potential for an extended stay. Even for such missions or perhaps settlements, basic human needs have to be met to survive. One material that can be used to meet those needs is chitin, which is produced and metabolized by organisms in most biological states. Chitin is a primary component of cell walls in fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods, such as crustaceans and insects, and fish and amphibian scales. Due to its ubiquity, chitin will likely be part of any artificial ecosystem.

In the new study, Fernandez and coworkers used simple chemistry for early Martian settlement, which was suitable for building and building a new material with minimal energy requirements and without special equipment. They made this material by mixing chitosan with a mineral designed to mimic the properties of Martian soil. The authors used chitinous material to construct a wrench and a model of a Martian habitat, indicating that this material enabled the rapid construction of objects ranging from basic equipment to hardly rigid shelters, which Can support humans in a Mars environment. According to the authors, this approach may be the key to our development as an internatural species.

Dr. Fernandez notes, “Against the general belief, bioinspired manufacturing and durable materials are not a replacement technique for synthetic polymers, but an enabling technology defines a new paradigm in manufacturing, and allowed synthetic things to be done by synthetic counterparts It has demonstrated that they are not only important for our sustainability on Earth, but also one of humanity’s next greatest achievements: our transformation into an innate species. ”

Fernandez leads the way on “The technology was originally developed to create circular ecosystems in urban environments, but due to its efficiency, it produces materials in a closed artificial ecosystem in a lifeless extremely rare environment.” Is also the most efficient and scalable method to do it. Planets or satellites. ”


The team develops the missing link to the circular economy to tackle global waste


more information:
Schiavi N, Dritasus S, Fernandez JG (2020) Martian bioliths: a bioinspired regolith composite for closed-loop inelastic manufacturing. one more 15 (9): e0238606. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238606

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