IISc, ISRO Developing new method for generating rocks from Mars soil; Can be used in projects on Moon and Mars

Scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) of Bengaluru have developed a comprehensive method of producing ‘space rocks’, paving the way for planetary exploration.

The method would enable the development of habitats on the Moon and eventually on Mars. IISc revealed in a special report that the technique uses bacteria and guar beans, as well as lunar and Martian soil, to solidify the material into robust, load-bearing brick-like structures.

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“It’s really intriguing because it combines two vastly different fields — biology and mechanical engineering.” Alok Kumar, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, explained.

Discussing the production process of ‘space rocks’, IISc revealed that the raw materials needed for the rocks are urea (which can be obtained from urine samples) and lunar soil. The scientists used soil simulants, guar gum, a bacterium called Sporosarcina pasteurii, urea and nickel chloride to generate brick samples for habitats on Mars and the moon.

Scientists plan to investigate how the Martian atmosphere and low gravity affect the durability of the ‘space rocks’. Another problem is creating thriving conditions for the bacteria, which cannot survive in the planet’s atmosphere, which is 100 times leaner than Earth’s and contains more than 95 percent carbon dioxide.

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To tackle this problem, they have developed MARS (Martian AtmospheRe Simulator), a device that can generate atmospheric conditions similar to those of Mars inside a laboratory.

COVER IMAGE: IISC/TWITTER

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