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Scientists come up with mind-blowing idea to build a base on the moon using 3D-printed Lego bricks

Scientists share how they plan to build a base for space travelers on the moon by using dust from a meteorite to 3D-print space bricks.
Cover Image Source: European Space Agency
Cover Image Source: European Space Agency

People across the world are acquainted with Lego sets that allowed them to build miniature houses, other structures, and entire cities as children. Space exploration is not child's play, but it seems the childhood obsession with Lego may soon lay the foundation for a base on the moon. Ever since mankind first set foot on the Moon, space agencies have been trying to figure out ways to build their bases on the lunar surface. It is easier said than done because the natural satellite doesn't have the kind of atmosphere and geology like our planet. Now scientists are focusing on establishing a permanent base on the moon using the materials found there. Even though there have been previous attempts to build bricks using potatoes and blood that can be put on the lunar surface, the European Space Agency (ESA) decided to go back to the basics. 


The ESA decided to create Lego bricks from lunar soil using 3D-printing technology, which will be stacked up to build an entire base. The lunar surface is covered with regolith which is a type of sharp rocky material that had built up on the moon over billions of years. Charged particles crashing down from the Sun and the surrounding space, also accumulated on the moon's surface. Since Earth doesn't have that kind of harsh environment, scientists decided to simulate it by using a bio-based biodegradable polymer known as polylactide.

The third element that was added to build the bricks and make them look more realistic was meteorite dust found on Earth. A meteorite that crashed on our planet in the Northern African region back in 2000 and was 4.5 billion years old, was pulverized and added to a mixture for the 3D printed Lego bricks. The resulting objects ended up looking like greyish Lego blocks with an uneven texture. Even though they don't have a smooth surface like regular Lego bricks there is a possibility that bricks like these can be interlocked together to form bigger structures on the moon.


These building blocks will provide adequate versatility and strength to the structures that space agencies plan to establish on the moon in a potential future. "Nobody has built a structure on the Moon, so it was great to have the flexibility to try out all kinds of designs and building techniques with our space bricks. It was both fun and useful in scientifically understanding the boundaries of these techniques," ESA Science Officer Aidan Cowley said in a statement. “My team and I love creative construction and had the idea to explore whether space dust could be formed into a brick similar to a LEGO brick, so we could test different building techniques."

Cowley even though the bricks look a bit on the rough side, their "clutch power still works incredibly well enough to allow experts test their designs." This experiment will be used to promote the unification of science and engineering to young people in future. These bricks can be observed at public display units across various Lego stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia till September 20. "It's no secret that real-world scientists and engineers sometimes try out ideas with LEGO bricks. ESA's space bricks are a great way to inspire young people and show them how to play and the power of the imagination has an important role in space science, too," Emmet Fletcher, the head of ESA's Branding and Partnerships Office, told IFL Science.


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