Ahead of the UAE’s first man heading into space tomorrow, and with the backdrop of Greta Thunberg’s empassioned speech to the adults of the world who have fumbled the climate change ball, there is news from the forefront of scientific research that could prove to be vital to man kind’s plans to expand to other planets.
If we eventually decide that the Moon is the best option for a permanent winter break, sending everything we need into space will quickly become incredibly expensive (just ask Elon Musk about that…) but, according to one academic there could be a solution.
In an article published on Space.com, written by Thanos Goulas, a Post-Doctoral Research Associate of the Additive Manufacturing Research Group, Loughborough University, lunar colonizers could use ‘space dust’ to 3D print much of what they need.
The Moon is covered in a top layer of a soil like substance called regolith. Formed over millions of years from asteroid impacts, regolith grains are very fine and would in theory need a liquid binding agent, from Earth, to hold them together. However, Goulas, speculates and has shown that there is another way.
“Our technique involves using a laser to turn a very small amount of energy into heat that can melt and fuse together grains of regolith to form a thin but solid slice of the material. By repeating this process multiple times and adding more layers in sequence, we can eventually build a three-dimensional object.” Explains Goulas.
While the process, which produces layers of material 1mm thick, isn’t practical for bigger objects like walls, it’s far more suited to essential components like dust and water filters. Still, one small step for man and so on.