A team of researchers is suggesting that we can use one of the most common organic polymers on Earth to build shelters on Mars.
The material, called chitin, is produced and metabolized by most biological organisms and forms the bulk of cell walls in fungi, insect exoskeletons, and fish scales.
The team, led by Javier Fernandez from Singapore University of Technology and Design, attempted to create a material by mixing fibers made of chitin with mineral materials that mimic Martian soil.
By mixing chitin
Using only basic tools and simple chemistry, the team was able to construct a model under a wrench and a Martian habitat, as detailed in the paper published in the magazine one more This week.
The team wrote in their paper, “Working with chemistry suitable for the Early Martian Settlement, we produced Martian bioliths using chitosan obtained on Mars with sodium hydroxide from the orthopodic cuticle.”
In simple terms, Fernandez explained: The resulting material “looks like concrete, but is much lighter.” Cnn. “Very light rock.”
“We have a route … from 3D printing to making equipment to casting buildings with just a single material,” he said.
According to Fernandez, bioinspired technologies can “define a new paradigm in manufacturing, and allow it to do things unacceptable by synthetic counterparts,” according to a statement.
He argues that these technologies “are not only important for our sustainability on Earth, but also one of humanity’s next greatest achievements: our transformation into an innate species.”
Read more: This is how we should build on Mars, scientists say [CNN]
More on Mars shelters: Wins these 3D-printed Mars Habitats Just NASA Award