Ice Home materials for future Mars dwellings are heading to space

October 25, 2017 by  
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Before astronauts ever venture to Mars , materials for a red planet habitat will undergo space testing. The inflatable Mars Ice Home , designed by Clouds Architecture Office (Clouds AO), Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch), and NASA’s Langley Research Center , could protect explorers from radiation in the extreme environment of Mars – and the materials that could comprise the dome will soon be assessed aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Mars Ice Home materials are to be blasted to space in November 2018, as part of the MISSE-11 mission. On the ISS, materials for the habitat’s wall assembly will be flight tested for an entire year, and material samples will even be mounted on the station’s exterior to see how they respond after a long period of time in space’s harsh environment. They’ll then return to Earth, so scientists can scrutinize how the materials performed. Related: NASA envisions ice dome home for future Mars dwellers Clouds AO said they are working with NASA’s Langley Research Center engineers on Mars Ice Home’s design , which they recently updated for a thicker ice wall. So far it appears the ice home could do a better job of shielding astronauts from radiation than aluminum ; Clouds AO said in a statement, “Using raytrace analysis based on the Badhwar-O’Neill 2014 model, an effective dose of 89 millisieverts per year was measured near the core of the latest Ice Home design. This represents a 48 to 50 percent reduction in radiation from Galactic Cosmic Rays, and a significant improvement of shielding over typical aluminum pressure vessels.” Ice can effectively protect humans from radiation, per Clouds AO’s design statement, and would also allow astronauts on Mars to live in a space with natural light , which would keep them connected to diurnal cycles. Water for Mars Ice Home would be sourced locally from the red planet, and could be repurposed as rocket fuel when it comes time to return to Earth. + Clouds AO + SEArch Images via NASA and NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch

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Ice Home materials for future Mars dwellings are heading to space

Scientists create super-strong bricks from mars-like soil

April 28, 2017 by  
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Future Mars dwellers may actually be able to use locally-sourced materials for their buildings. Four University of California, San Diego engineers were able to press Mars-like dirt into bricks in a study funded by NASA . No other materials were necessary to keep the blocks together. And the bricks were incredibly tough – even more than steel-reinforced concrete . A high-pressure hammer helped the engineers pack dirt – with the same chemical composition and grain size and shape as soil on Mars – into strong bricks. Since storage will be limited on any craft carrying astronauts to Mars, they may be able to devote room to other equipment if they know they can construct habitats with the red planet’s resources. Related: Scientists use Martian dust to 3D print tools On Earth we typically have to employ some type of adhesive to keep construction materials together. But simulated Mars dirt actually has a chemical ingredient that helps bind it. Structural engineer Yu Qiao told The Verge the chemical ingredient “gives the soil strength when it’s compacted.” It may be feasible for humans to hammer out bricks on the red planet as well. NASA life sciences expert Jon Rask, not part of the study, told The Verge, “It’s really easy to swing a hammer on Mars. You can imagine a Mars explorer swinging a hammer to make strong building blocks.” The team worked with lunar soil in the past, when NASA aimed to go back to the moon . Lunar dirt requires a binder, but since the binder would have to be shipped from Earth, the team worked with the lunar dirt until they were able to take the binder content below the 15 percent construction materials on Earth generally require to just three percent. When NASA shifted its focus to Mars, the team did too, and decided to test their lunar dirt findings on Mars dirt. They first tried packing the dirt into blocks with six percent binder, and when that worked well, they decided to test the Martian dirt further and discovered it necessitated no binder whatsoever. The journal Scientific Reports published the engineers’ findings online yesterday. Via The Verge Images via the University of California, San Diego

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Scientists create super-strong bricks from mars-like soil

Foster + Partners unveils 3D-printed Mars settlement built by robots for NASA competition

September 28, 2015 by  
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Foster + Partners unveils 3D-printed Mars settlement built by robots for NASA competition

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