While some dream to colonize the Red Planet at some point in the future, there are lots of factors that have to be taken into account. One of them is represented by a lack of usable materials on the surface of the planet.
A team of researchers has discovered that chitin, which is an organic polymer encountered in the exoskeletons of many insects, can be converted into a usable building material with the help of a chemical process that is easy to conduct.
Experimenting with technology
Originally, the technology was developed with the aim to sustain the use of circular ecosystems in urban areas. It features impressive efficiency while also facilitating the creation and deployment of material even in barren environments like the one found on Mars since it doesn’t require advanced tools.
NASA is hard at work on a return to the Moon, which includes the goal of establishing a permanent base on the surface. The base would serve as an important step in the launch of more extensive missions, but an impressive amount of building materials will be required.
Affordable and easy to use
Transporting raw materials to the Moon is far from being an option as the costs would be astronomical. This is the main factor that has motivated experts to explore alternative materials that could be used. Chitin tends to be abundant in nature, especially in the exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects.
During their experiments, the researchers mixed processed chitin with a mineral that is similar to the Martian soil and managed to create a chitinous molding material. Several objects could be crafted successfully, including small tools that can be used for common tasks.
The resulting biolith is quite sturdy, proving that it is viable for several applications, while also being easy to craft and affordable at the same time.
A paper has been published in a scientific journal.