Researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design believe they have uncovered the key to building a habitat on Mars.
This includes a combination of Martian soil and chitin — a primary component in seashells, insect exoskeletons, and fungi walls. These basic building blocks could provide a replenishable material for making rigid shelters that can support humans on the Red Planet.
SUSTAINABILITY IS A KEY FACTOR
Javier Gomez Fernandez, one of the researchers on the project said, “Sustainability is a key factor of our research. Production scales with waste. Therefore, the system scales with the population. The more humans, the larger is the ecosystem, the larger the production of chitin from waste processing, the more material you can produce. This is the opposite to the current Earth paradigm, where the more you produce, the more resources you deplete and the more waste you generate.”
CHITIN COULD BE PERFECT FOR LIFE ON MARS
Researchers have been working on similar bio-inspired manufacturing processes for sustainability on Earth for a decade. However, in a new paper, Fernandez and colleagues describe how the material could be just perfect for life on Mars.
The chitin they propose could come from insects which may also double as a valuable source of protein for the long space journey. This chitin can be combined with Martian soil to create the finished building material without requiring much in the way of energy or specialist equipment.
CRITICAL TECHNOLOGIES MUST MATURE
In an abstract describing their work, the researchers wrote, “Given plans to revisit the lunar surface by the late 2020s and to take a crewed mission to Mars by the late 2030’s, critical technologies must mature. In missions of extended duration, resource utilisation is necessary to both maximise scientific returns and minimise costs.
“While this presents a significantly more complex challenge in the resource starved environment of Mars, it is similar to the increasing need to develop resource efficient and zero waste ecosystems on Earth.”
RESEARCHERS ARE INVESTIGATING DIFFERENCES
There are a few differences, which the researchers are now investigating.
These include how the material will likely hold up when interacting with the radiation, the low pressure and low temperatures of Mars.
The fact is that nobody wants to spend a few years flying to Mars, eating bugs along the way, only to build a house made of recycled bugs that instantly falls apart.
Read the original article on The South African