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3D Printing Could Solve This Huge Mars Problem
NASA spends around $54,000 to get 2.2 pounds worth of tools and materials needed out of Earth's orbit and into space, leaving scientists to explore alternative solutions. One option being evaluated is the possibility of 3D printing in space and using materials found there instead of bringing them out from Earth, reducing the initial load and costs.
This idea was first tested in 2011 with moon material by a research team headed by Amit Bandyopadhyay that used imitation moon dust, also known as lunar regolith, to 3D-print materials. Since then, this technology has been implemented on the International Space Station, allowing for the creation of material via 3D printing when needed.
In this research, Bandyopadhyay and his team discovered the combination of 5% Martian regolith and titanium alloy would allow for the construction of resilient yet lightweight material using a 3D printer and materials found on Mars. Exploring this route is necessary, as a manned Mars space mission would require materials to be created during travel instead of brought up from Earth.