Moon bricks may be used by astronauts to build potential lunar igloos

January 23rd, 2009 - 3:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 23 (ANI): A research team from Virginia Tech in the US has created moon bricks, which could someday be used by astronomers living on the lunar surface to construct an interlocking, virtually indestructible dome-shaped home, just like igloos.

According to a report in Discovery News, the moon bricks were created as part of the Pacific International Space lunar exploration and colonization.

The VT teams goal was to create a home for visiting astronauts using readily available materials, also known as in situ resource utilization.

Regolith is the main rock found on the moon. Aluminum would come from the vehicle the astronauts used to reach the moon, but would have to be ground up first.

Solar chargers would provide the necessary electricity.

Since real moon rock isnt readily available here on Earth, the VT scientists used a NASA-approved regolith substitute, basically volcanic ash, as a medium to experiment with, and tested the reaction on a Hawaiian volcano.

Two wires stuck into the mixture provide the literal spark that begins the reactions.

Once the reaction begins, astronauts would have to step back quickly. Temperatures can reach 1,500 degrees Ceslisus. The reaction continues until all the mixture is consumed.

Any shape or size can be produced, from small, interlocking bricks to solid landing pads.

The habitat would look just like an igloo, said Kathryn Logan, a professor at Virginia Tech involved in the project. No nails, no cement would be necessary to hold it together. The shape of the bricks will do that, she added.

Creating an entire residence in a few minutes would even be possible, if the team finds a way to hold the powder in place while the reaction proceeds.

The reaction is known as a thermite reaction, and is used to weld metal together or create ceramics.

Logan came up with the idea to form moon bricks because she helped develop tank armor using a similar reaction when she worked at Georgia Tech.

Like tanks, moon brick buildings would be tough and protect the residents inside them. A moon brick home would survive most meteor strikes.

It would also shield astronauts from most radiation, according to initial tests run by the VT team. (ANI)

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