ISRO develops Space Bricks from Martian Soil

Tags: Science and Technology

Researchers from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a way to make bricks from Martian soil with the help of bacteria and urea.

  • ISRO and IISc have collaborated to develop a novel scalable technique of manufacturing space bricks using Martian Simulant Soil (MSS).

  • The researcher first made the slurry by mixing Martian soil with guar gum, a bacterium called Sporosarcina pasteurii, urea and nickel chloride (NiCl2).

  • This slurry can be poured into moulds of any desired shape, and over a few days the bacteria convert the urea into crystals of calcium carbonate.

  • These crystals, along with biopolymers secreted by the microbes act as cement holding the soil particles together.

  • The bacteria seep deep into the pore spaces, using their own proteins to bind the particles together, decreasing porosity and leading to stronger bricks.

  • These ‘space bricks’ can be used to construct building-like structures on Mars that could facilitate human settlement on the red planet.

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