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Advances in Space Research
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 46  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 582 - 592

Multifunctional Martian habitat composite material synthesized from in situ resources

S. Sen, S. Carranza and S. Pillay    

Abstract: The two primary requirements for a Martian habitat structure include effective radiation shielding against the Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR) environment and sufficient structural and thermal integrity. To significantly reduce the cost associated with transportation of such materials and structures from earth, it is imperative that such building materials should be synthesized primarily from Martian in situ resources. This paper illustrates the feasibility of such an approach. Experimental results are discussed to demonstrate the synthesis of polyethylene (PE) from a simulated Martian atmosphere and the fabrication of a composite material using simulated Martian regolith with PE as the binding material. The radiation shielding effectiveness of the proposed composites is analyzed using results from radiation transport codes and exposure of the samples to high-energy beams that serve as a terrestrial proxy for the GCR environment. Mechanical and ballistic impact resistance properties of the proposed composite as a function of composition, processing parameters, and thermal variations are also discussed to evaluate the multifunctionality of such in situ synthesized composite materials.

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