A team of Indian scientists claims to have found a sustainable process to make brick-like structures on the lunar surface which could be a significant step forward in space exploration.
Researchers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bengaluru made the breakthrough.
In a statement, IISc said the process exploits lunar soil and uses bacteria and guar beans to consolidate the soil into possible load-bearing structures.
“These ‘space bricks’ could eventually be used to assemble structures for habitation on the moon’s surface, the researchers suggest,” it said.
Space exploration has grown exponentially in the last century. With earth’s resources dwindling rapidly, scientists have intensified their efforts to inhabit the moon and possibly other planets.
“It is really exciting because it brings two different fields – biology and mechanical engineering – together,” said Aloke Kumar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, IISc, one of the authors of two studies recently published in Ceramics International and PLOS One.
It costs around $10,020 to send a pound of material to outer space, according to IISc.
Explaining the process, IISc said it uses urea which can be sourced from human urine and lunar soil as raw materials for construction on the moon’s surface.
“This decreases the overall expenditure considerably. The process also has a lower carbon footprint because it uses guar gum instead of cement for support. This could also be exploited to make sustainable bricks on Earth,” the statement said.