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Want to colonize Mars? Airgel can help



Cultivating Mars is much easier in science fiction
than in real life: The Red Planet is an inhospitable world. Between
with other challenges, negative temperatures mean that water can only remain on the surface
like ice, and the atmosphere of the planet offers little protection for plants (or
people) from the radiation of the sun.

Of course, NASA has plans to put people on
Mars, using the lessons, will learn from his studies on the Moon Artemis.
And these people will have to eat. You can produce food on Mars
help reduce the amount of consumables consuming valuable space and fuel
crew missions to the Red Planet. But understand how – and where – yes
produce this food, while being extremely careful not to pollute Mars
with bacteria carried by the Earth are some of the challenges for scientists and engineers
face.

In a new article in Nature Astronomy, researchers offer
that a material called aerogel can help people someday build greenhouses
other habitats of the mean latitudes of Mars where
ice has been identified near the surface of the water. The study is funded by Harvard
University Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Airgel is solid as polystyrene, which is 99% air that makes
extremely light. It also helps to prevent heat transfer,
making it an excellent insulator; is actually used for this purpose
all NASA marshalling. In addition, the aerogel is transparent, allowing visibility
light passes while blocking the harmful radiation of ultraviolet light. the most
aerogel is made of silicon dioxide, the same material that is found in the glass.
Harvard, 2-3 centimeters of silicon airgel allows light from the set lamp
to simulate Martian sunlight to warm the surface below 1

50 degrees
degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) – enough to raise
temperatures on the surface of Mars and melting ice.

"The study is designed as
an initial test of the aerogel potential as a Martian building material, "he says
second author Laura Kerber, a geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California.

Kerber participates in 2015
NASA Seminar to Determine the Best Places on Mars to Send Astronauts. "The
the ideal place for Martian hut will have plenty of water and moderate
Mars is warmer around the equator, but most
of water ice is at higher latitudes. Building with silica gel
will allow us artificially to create warm environments where it already exists
available water ice. "

Expanding Martian Areas
where people can grow things, it also opens new areas where they could do
valuable research, "added Kerber.
from the heating process that creates the so-called dark spots that put Mars in carbon
dioxide ice caps in the spring. This kind of ice is better known on Earth
like dry ice. Like an aerogel, ice with carbon dioxide is transparent, allowing sunlight
Heat the surface below. As the soil is warming up, carbon dioxide gas is accumulated
between the ice and the warm surface, eventually causing the ice to break.
This, on the other hand, creates a suction of gas that throws the soil under the ice on it
surface.

The experiment explores a
similar aerogel process. The document describes how the two solid particles
aerogel, as well as pieces of crushed aerogel, can be used to heat the surface
Below. Researchers use different levels of lighting produced by Martian
seasons. The results show that the aerogel can even provide a thermal effect
in the bitter Martian winter. In the middle latitudes, in the winter at night
the temperature may be as cold as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees)
Celsius)

The next step, says Wordsworth:
also carries out the experiment from the laboratory and in Martian analogues such as Chile
The Atacama desert or the dry valleys of Antarctica. Like Mars, these
the environment reaches negative temperatures and are extremely dry

"Our forecast is
that aerogel protection should provide more efficient heating while weighing
This is important to see under the field

Challenges must be overcome

While the experiment was
encouraging evidence of the concept, Wordsworth admits that there is still
overcoming major engineering challenges. Based on climatic model
produced with the experiment will take a lot of aerogel and at least two
Mars years (or four earth years) of warming to produce a permanent region of
liquid water from below. Although the aerogel is several times lighter than the air,
Roof-covered roof structures
the material will require delivery of large quantities of it to Mars or somehow
production there. The silica aerogel is very fragile
and porous; putting it in another transparent material or combining them
with flexible materials, can prevent rupture. This can increase the air
pressure under construction, made with a roof or aerogel shield,
allowing the water to be collected more easily
the surface rather than evaporating into the thin Martian atmosphere

However, the authors of the study note
that the development of small residential areas on Mars is more acceptable than that
trying to "terraform" the planet, as science fiction writers write
in the past. NASA
study
last year broke the hopes of thickening
The Martian atmosphere is enough to create Earth-like greenhouse effect.

"Anything that would help make a long-term occupancy
it may be exciting to think, "Wordsworth said.

More Information
for the NASA Mars program at

https://www.nasa.gov/mars

https://mars.nasa.gov/

Media Contact

Reactive Movement Lab, Pasadena, California
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1501
alana.r.johnson@nasa.gov

2019-144


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