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The planet Mars has always been an active target for space exploration. Its colonization is an ongoing mission for saving the human race, which could face extinction in the future. There is a popular belief that Mars can sustain life due to its optimum distance from the sun, presence of gravity, and a thin atmospheric layer. The colonization of Mars was first proposed by NASA in 2015.
One can estimate the enormous costs of colonizing Mars by evaluating the transportation cost of a single brick to Mars, which is estimated to be around $2 million.
To overcome this problem, scientists from the University of Manchester worked to create building materials on Mars itself. Known as in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), the technique utilizes loose rock, Martian soil, and sparse water deposits for creating a concrete-like material.
The scientists demonstrated that a common protein from blood plasma could act as a binder for the simulated moon or Mars dust to produce a concrete-like material. The resultant material, termed Astro Crete, had compressive strengths as high as 25 MPa, the same as that of ordinary concrete. When mixed with urea, a biological waste product produced through sweat, urine and tears, its compressive strength could be increased to 40 MPa.
It was found that the blood proteins denature to form an extended structure with interactions known as "beta sheets" that holds the materials together. The idea dates back to the medieval period when animal blood was used to make mortar.
Scientists have calculated that over 500 kg of high-strength Astro Crete could be produced by a crew of six astronauts on a two-year mission on Mars.
Each crew member could produce Astro Crete to support an additional crew member, doubling the housing availability with each successive mission.
This new technique is considered to provide considerable advantages over other proposed construction techniques for outer space. Space colonization doesn't seem like a distant dream after all!