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Use of chitin, a bioinspired material, for the production of instruments and shelters on Mars



Use of chitin, a bioinspired material, for the production of instruments and shelters on Mars

Picture of a Martian. Credit: Javier G. Fernandez, 2020 CC-BY

A simple production technology based on chitin, one of the most abundant organic polymers on Earth, can be used to build instruments and shelters on Mars, according to a study published Sept. 1

6 in the Open Access Journal. PLOS ONE by Javier Fernandez of the University of Singapore in Technology and Design and colleagues.


With plans to review the lunar surface and eventually send a mission with a crew to Mars, future space exploration missions are likely to include extended stays. For such missions or perhaps even settlements, survival requires meeting basic human needs. One material that can be used to meet these needs is chitin, which is produced and metabolized by organisms in most biological kingdoms. Chitin is a major component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans and insects, and the scales of fish and amphibians. Due to its ubiquity, chitin is likely to be part of any artificial ecosystem.

In the new study, Fernandez and colleagues used simple chemistry suitable for the early Martian settlement to extract and produce new material with minimal energy requirements and no specialized equipment. They made this material by combining chitosan with a mineral designed to mimic the properties of Martian soil. The authors then used chitinous material to construct a wrench and a Mars habitat model, demonstrating that this material allowed the rapid production of objects ranging from basic tools to perhaps even solid shelters that could support humans in a Martian environment. According to the authors, this approach may be key to our development as an interplanetary species.

Dr. Fernandez notes, “Contrary to popular belief, bioinspiration and sustainable materials are not a substitute technology for synthetic polymers, but a favorable technology that defines a new paradigm in manufacturing and allows things to be done that are unattainable by synthetic counterparts. Here we have demonstrated that they are key not only to our resilience on Earth, but also to one of the next greatest achievements of humanity: our transformation into an interplanetary species. “

Fernandez moves to a further state or satellite. ”


The team develops a missing link to the circular economy while dealing with global waste


More info:
Shiwei N, Dritsas S, Fernandez JG (2020) Martian Biolite: Bioinspired composite regolith for closed-loop extraterrestrial production. PLOS ONE 15 (9): e0238606. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238606

Provided by the Public Scientific Library

Quote: Use of chitin, a bioinspired material, for the production of instruments and shelters on Mars (2020, 16 September), extracted on 16 September 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-chitin-bioinspired -material-tools-mars. html

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