Astronauts of the International Space Station, have started making concrete in space for the humans to settle down on the Moon and Mars.
The cement has been made in microgravity for the first time hence it can harden and develop in space. Concretes are a mixture of sand, rocks, gravel and a combination of water and cement powder that binds it all together. It is a strong and a reliable building material on Earth that is used in construction.
These concretes could be durable to protect future astronauts from cosmic radiation and safeguard species from some of the off-Earth living.
“On missions to the Moon and Mars, humans and equipment will need to be protected from extreme temperatures and radiations, and the only way to do that is by building infrastructures on these extraterrestrial environments,” says study principal investigator Aleksandra Radlinska, assistant professor of civil engineering at Penn State.
There are also possibilities that concretes could be made using the local materials present on the surface of the Moon and Mars such as Moondust. The scientist has used a mixture of water with tricalcium silicate for the purpose of their study called the Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification project. This is a mixture that has never been created in microgravity.
Cement is usually a complex mixture and when to dissolve in water, crystals begin to form and fit together thus changing the material’s molecular structure. This project has highlighted the difference between the cement found on the Earth’s surface and the ones found on the Moon. Hence they found out that the cement found on the Moon’s surface had very different microstructures than the cement made on Earth.
“Increase porosity has a direct bearing on the strength of the material, but we have yet to measure the strength of the space-formed material,” says Radlinska.
Space made cement is comparatively different from the Earth-based cement and it still developed and hardened.