(ORDO NEWS) — As part of the NASA Artemis program, it is planned to build a base on the Moon, which will include a modern lunar cabin, a rover and a mobile home.
The base could potentially be built with bricks made from lunar regolith and salt water.
Associate Professor Ranajay Ghosh of the University of California and his research team have found that 3D printed lunar regolith bricks can withstand the extreme conditions of space and could be used for space building projects.
The results of their experiments are detailed in a recent issue of Ceramics International.
To create the bricks, Ghosh’s team used a combination of 3D printing and binder jet (BJT), an additive manufacturing method in which a liquid binding agent is applied to a layer of powder.
In Ghosh’s experiments, the binder was salt water and the powder was regolith made by Caltech’s Exolith Laboratory.
The BJT process resulted in cylindrical bricks, which were then fired at around 1200°C for a stronger structure.
Bricks baked at low temperatures crumbled, but those exposed to high temperatures were able to withstand pressures 250 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.
Ghosh says this work paves the way for using BJT to create materials and structures in space. The findings also demonstrate that extraterrestrial structures can be built using resources found in space, which could drastically reduce the need to transport building materials for missions like Artemis.
“This study contributes to the ongoing debate in the space exploration community about finding a balance between using extraterrestrial resources in situ and materials transported from Earth,” says Ghosh.
“The further we develop methods that use regolith, the more opportunities we will have to create and expand bases on the Moon, Mars and other planets in the future.”
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