Mars Mission : Spin Soil into Steel

By Girish Linganna
Feb 27: Researchers are investigating the feasibility of transforming Martian soil into fibers with a strength comparable to steel.
This innovative approach aims to fabricate robust building materials directly on Mars, significantly reducing the need for transporting extensive resources from Earth. The initiative seeks to make the establishment of a Martian colony more practical and cost-effective by utilizing local materials for construction.
Peng-Cheng Ma from the Xinjiang Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry in China mentioned, "We were curious to see if we could turn Mars dirt into fiber materials. Fiber is very useful, for making clothes or other fiber items.".This was reported by New Scientist Media House.
To try this, Ma and his team made a mix that's very similar to the dirt found on Mars, mainly consisting of silica and small amounts of aluminum oxide, iron oxides, magnesium oxides, and calcium oxide.
They warmed up the soil that's similar to Mars soil to 1500°C, then cooled it quickly by putting it in water. After that, they broke the cooled material into pieces and used a machine to spin it into threads.
These threads were thin, between 9.7 and 13.9 micrometers wide, and very strong, with a strength of 1320 megapascals. This means they're as tough as a small steel rod.
Ma says, "It's a lot like the glass fiber that's added to concrete to make it stronger."
Besides for construction, this fiber could also help plants grow better than in Mars' dry soil because it keeps water well, according to him. Plus, it could be used to make clothing, like T-shirts for astronauts on Mars.
Javier Fernandez from the Singapore University of Technology and Design mentioned, "If we can make more of these fibers, which are still just an idea being tested, they could be really useful for making other materials stronger," as reported by New Scientist.
Ma added that making these fibers on Red Planet (other name of Mars) might be a bit different because of things like the lower gravity there. He wants to adjust the method so it works better in Mars' conditions.

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