Martian-Like Soil Produces Bricks Stronger than Concrete


Researchers created strong bricks out of a material which resembled the Martial soil

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found a viable solution for building shelters on Mars. In the eventuality of human colonization of the Red Planet, the soil on the surface might turn out the best material for buildings to resist the harsh environmental conditions.

Finding ways to build strong buildings on Mars

Many astronomers and scientists are preparing for the moment when humans would reach Mars and start a colony on its surface. Of course, they thought of possible methods to build and create shelters which would cope with the conditions.

Elon Musk is one of the most fervent adepts of this idea of the colonization of Mars. He is actively trying to develop the suitable technology which would allow humans to reach the surface of the Red Planet. In his vision, humans would live in geodesic shelters built using glass and carbon fiber. However, a better method might be pressing the Martian soil into bricks and using them for building.

The method was discovered by a team of researchers from the University of California in San Diego, while performing a NASA-funded study. They simulated the composition of Martian soil by using Earth dirt with the same properties as the Red Planet soil. The bricks obtained after compressing this material were stronger than concrete.

There have been several attempts to build using native alien resources

This would represent a second attempt of creating materials for buildings by trying to reproduce alien resources. Last year, researchers were able to make concrete out of melted Sulphur mixed with Martian soil. Since then, this team has been trying to find ways to create bricks for building on Mars.

Initially, they tried to use lunar material, and then they thought about using the Martian soil itself. They found how iron oxide helps the soil gather in such a strong compound. If it is crushed, iron oxide shatters easily into flat particles. Thus, they smashed it at a strong enough force and obtained powerful bonds which kept the soil together.

At the moment, they were able to produce only small bricks. To prove that this building method is feasible, they should create much bigger blocks. This is quite a big discovery. When human exploration missions on the Red Planet become a reality, the colonizers will be able to use accessible materials to erect buildings and shelters.
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