A team of researchers suggests that we could 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 makes up most of the cell walls in fungi, insect exoskeletons and fish scales.
The team, led by Javier Fernandez of Singapore University of Technology and Design, tried to make the material by combining a fiber made of chitin with a mineral material that mimics Martian soil.
Mixing of chitin
Using only basic tools and simple chemistry, the team was able to construct a wrench and a scale model of a Martian habitat, as described in detail in an article published in the journal. PLOS ONE this week.
“Working with simple chemistry suitable for early Martian settlement, we produced Martian biolite using chitosan derived from the cuticle of arthropods by treatment with sodium hydroxide, a component obtained on Mars by electrolytic hydrolysis,”
In simpler words: the resulting material “feels like concrete, but much lighter,” Fernandez said. CNN. “Very light rock.”
“We have a way to … produce buildings to tools from 3D printing to die casting with just one material,” he added.
According to Fernandez, bioinspired technologies can define “a new paradigm in production and allow things to be done that are unattainable by their synthetic counterparts,” the statement said.
He argues that these technologies “are key not only to our resilience on Earth, but also to one of humanity’s next greatest achievements: our transformation into an interplanetary species.”
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