Stories

How to make a brick on Mars

Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

NASA is quietly taking baby steps toward a manned mission to Mars, which President Trump says is now the space agency's highest priority. In a new study funded by the agency, researchers devised a way for future settlers on the Red Planet to make bricks out of the soil without an oven, or even any other ingredients.

What they did: Engineers from the University of California-San Diego molded simulated Martian soil into shape and hit it with a force equivalent to a whack from a 10-lb. hammer. That was sufficient to set the soil, which they think is being bound by iron oxide that gives the dirt its red color. The bricks were stronger than steel-reinforced concrete, they report.

The expert brick-maker's take: "The people who will go to Mars will be incredibly brave. They will be pioneers. And I would be honored to be their brick maker." – Yu Qiao, University of California-San Diego.