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Researchers 3D Print Moon Rocks for Use as Lunar Building Material
3d printing has become one of the most exciting fields of technology today as it opens up new possibilities for consumers and scientists. But the next frontier for 3d printing tech may be outer space – as researchers at Washington State University have now used the technology to create objects with simulated moon rock! The new research will enable scientists to explore applications for using lunar and Martian surface matter to create building materials and tools.
The idea to replicate moon rocks was first hatched in 2012 when NASA asked Washington State University to take on the task. Recent developments in the technology over the past two years have made that dream a reality.
Researchers Susmita Bose and Amit Bandyopadhyay, who are known for their success in 3D printing bone material, were doled out a supply of ten pounds of surface moon rocks- raw lunar regolith – to work with. The research team first studied the material, which is made up of silicon oxides, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium, before beginning the 3D printing process.
The researchers produced a cache of 3D replicated moon rocks, and they are now experimenting with ways to use the material as a building material. By melting, testing, and combining the lunar regolith with other native Earth materials, the team hopes to develop strong building materials capable of holding together in space. Should the testing prove successful, future space expeditions could save weight and money that would normally be reserved for transporting raw building materials from Earth, instead using native lunar material to build on site.
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