Silica aerogel is the lightest solid in the world, and it might be the key for sustaining a human colony on Mars.
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A human life on Mars would likely have to be lived indoors due in part to its lack of both a breathable atmosphere and protection from UV rays. Not to mention the very drastic temperature swings, that make living on Mars as a mere human a bit difficult.
Thankfully, it looks like we might just have the material to make an indoor life on the red planet possible.
Aerogel, also known as frozen smoke, is a clear material made from silica. It's molecular structure is looser and more dispersed than glass, and its unique molecular structure makes it a great natural insulator.
The material can block all infrared radiation, is for cold environments and could be a great material for future greenhouses on Mars.
While aerogel looks great on paper, scientists are setting up experiments to ensure it is, in fact, the answer to building habitats and colonizing Mars.
Learn more about the material and its potential future both on Earth and Mars on this episode of Elements.
#Mars #Maritan #Space #Habitat #Seeker #Elements #Science
Silica aerogel could make Mars habitable
"Through modeling and experiments, the researchers show that a two to three-centimeter-thick shield of silica aerogel could transmit enough visible light for photosynthesis, block hazardous ultraviolet radiation, and raise temperatures underneath permanently above the melting point of water, all without the need for any internal heat source."
Where to stay on Mars? Robots could create living quarters before humans arrive.
"The 3-D-printed Habitat Challenge is a five-year competition hosted by NASA and its partners to design housing for deep-space exploration, including trips to Mars."
Enabling Martian habitability with silica aerogel via the solid-state greenhouse effect
"This regional approach to making Mars habitable is much more achievable than global atmospheric modification. In addition, it can be developed systematically, starting from minimal resources, and can be further tested in extreme environments on Earth today."
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