SOLID STRUCTURES 3D-PRINTED FROM ‘MARTIAN SOIL’
They may look like something you wouldn’t want to tread in, but these 3D-printed structures could one day help us to build a colony on Mars.
The miniature igloo and corner wall were manufactured by a team of researchers at the European Space Agency, who were investigating the feasibility of one day using locally sourced materials for building on Mars and other planets. The structures were produced by mixing JSC-Mars1A – volcanic soil that has undergone careful processing to match the known composition and characteristics of Martian soil – with phosphoric acid, then squeezing it through a nozzle and depositing it in successive layers.
“The hardened results demonstrate the technique has potential for hardware and structural manufacturing on a variety of planetary bodies – it does not depend on the destination,” said researcher Christoph Buchner.
The 3D-printed test objects represent the types of structures that Mars colonists would need to build to survive, and mark an exciting step forwards for what the researchers call ‘in-situ resource utilisation’ – the concept of using locally sourced materials as much as possible on planetary missions, in an effort to minimise the spacecraft’s payload on launch.
These tiny objects are proof that 3D printing with modified Martian soil is