A Billion-Year-Old Meteorite Has Been Turned Into LEGO Bricks For A Moon Habitat Test

One of the main objectives of future lunar exploration is to establish a permanent base using resources from the Moon. To test an innovative method, LEGO bricks made from ancient cosmic material were 3D printed by experts at the European Space Agency (ESA).

Regolith, a kind of rocky soil created over billions of years by solar radiation and meteor strikes, covers the surface of the Moon. Although lunar regolith is not found on Earth, it can be simulated. Researchers from ESA combined this simulated regolith with polylactide, a biodegradable polymer.

The group included meteorite dust as a third element to further enhance the mixture’s authenticity. After it had been ground up, they added a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite that had fallen in North Africa in 2000 to their mixture. The end product was a solid brick in a chic space grey color that looked like standard LEGO bricks and fit together despite a few imperfections brought on by the 3D printing technique.

“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,” said ESA Science Officer Aidan Cowley.

Cowley went on to convey his team’s excitement for the project. “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 that we could test different building techniques. The result is amazing, and while the bricks may look a little rougher than usual, importantly, the clutch power still works, enabling us to play and test our designs,” Cowley added.

The project shows that it is possible to make interlocking structures using materials found on the moon, which might greatly increase the variety of bases that could be constructed there. These 3D-printed space blocks will be used to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. Until September 20, they can be seen at a number of LEGO Stores in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

“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,” said Emmet Fletcher, Head of ESA’s Branding and Partnerships Office.

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