Materials For Mars
To colonize Mars, we need new innovative materials. For the vehicles that will get us there. For the clothes we will wear. For the dwellings we will build to survive. Here are a few of the solutions in play that promise to be out of this world!
GETTING TO MARS: SPACE FABRIC. NASA is developing woven metal fabrics for use in space. They look like chain mail, with small silver squares strung together. But these fabrics were not sewn by hand; they were 4D printed in one piece. Because the material is foldable and its shape can change quickly, it could be used for large antennas and other deployable devices. It could also be good for shielding a spacecraft from meteorites, for astronaut space suits, or for capturing objects on the surface of another planet. We can even use it to pave over unstable alien terrain without melting the ice beneath. Magic!
LIVING ON MARS: SULFURE CONCRETE. Mixing Martian soil with sulfur produces a strong and quick-drying concrete. Since gravity on Mars is one-third what it is on Earth, the strength of the concrete is effectively tripled. It can hold a shelter while also solidifying in less than an hour. Even fast-setting concrete takes 24 to 48 hours, and regular concrete needs up to 28 days to set. And since everything needed to make it can already be found on Mars, there is no need for us to bring anything with us on the journey. The substance is also reusable--it can be melted down and recast. Welcome home!
WHAT TO WEAR ON MARS: BIOSUIT. Current space suits rely on a mixture of pressurized gases, which fill them like a balloon and make it difficult to move. The new BioSuit's tight, stretchy material applies pressure to the skin mechanically rather than barometrically, without gas and with much less restriction of movement. It's made of a mix of polymers, including nylon and spandex, so it would be cheaper to manufacture than the U.S. $20 million price tag of one of today's suits. And it has a fail-safe design: If you tear its fabric, you lose pressure only around the tear. Time to go explore!
FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS. Once we are on Mars, our water, food, air, waste, and clothes will have to become an integral part of the closed-loop system. Our clothes will need to be manufactured, cleaned, maintained, and recycled with very careful management of water, energy, and raw materials. Why? Because unlike current missions to the International Space Station, with deep space adventures resupplying is not really possible.
This makes Mars a pioneer of future fashions and technologies!
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