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Houses could be built on Mars and the Moon using space cement


One day, concrete created in space could help humans build habitats on the Moon and Mars, according to a new study.

During a recent investigation aboard the International Space Station, astronauts made cement in microgravity for the first time, showing it can harden and grow in space.
Concrete – a mixture of sand, rock, gravel and a combination of water and cement powder that holds it all together – is a strong and reliable building material here on Earth. But it could also be durable enough to protect future astronauts from cosmic radiation and some dangers to extraterrestrial life, researchers say in a new study. Safe from extreme temperatures and radiation, and the only way to do that is to build infrastructure on top of these extraterrestrial environments,” said study leader, Aleksandra Radlinska, assistant professor of engineering Civilian at Penn State, said in a statement from NASA, “One idea is to build with materials like concrete in space. Concrete is very durable and protects better than many materials. ”

Alternatively, concrete (or concrete-like mixes) can be made with local materials, such as moondust. So if and when humans establish colonies of the Moon and Mars, those colonists can use local materials instead of sending them from Earth, this will be a difficult process, time consuming and costly.

For the study, called the Cement Solids Microgravity Investigation Project, astronauts on the space station mixed water with tricalcium silicate, the main mineral ingredient in some commercial cements. most commonly used commercial. This mixture has never been created in zero gravity.

When researchers on Earth compared cement samples made on Earth with cement samples made in space, they discovered that the cement made on the space station had a microstructure. tissue is very different from cement made on Earth, according to the press release. One of the key differences is that the cement produced in space is much more porous than the cement produced on Earth. “Increased porosity directly affects the strength of the material, but we have not yet measured the strength of materials that form in space,” says Radlinska. “Although concrete has been used for a very long time on Earth, we still don’t necessarily understand all aspects of hydration. We now know that there are some differences between Earth and space systems, and we can test those differences. To see which are beneficial and which are detrimental to using this material in space.”

It may seem like a simple building material, but cement actually has a rather complex structure. When the cement powder dissolves in water, crystals begin to form and bind together, changing the molecular structure of the material. This investigation aims to demonstrate and further explore how cements form in microgravity and whether unique microstructures can form. The project also allows for the first time comparison between cement samples created on Earth and cement samples created in space.

However, the team thinks that the way the experiments were conducted may have influenced the results of the study. For example, cement on Earth is not usually handled in sealed plastic bags because it sits on board in the controlled environment of the space station.

“The samples were in sealed bags, so another question is whether they are more complicated in an open space environment,” says Radlinska.
Although the cement produced in space is slightly different from the cement produced on Earth, it still grows and hardens.

“We confirmed the hypothesis that it could be done,” Radlinska said. “We can now take the next steps to find binders that are specific to space and for different gravity levels, from 0 g to Mars g and in between.”

News Summary:

  • Houses could be built on Mars and the Moon using space cement
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