If we get to Mars, we will not be able to deliver everything that humans need to survive for an extended period of time or build a colony. New research offers the option of building shelters and crafting tools from a single key ingredient.
Astronauts may only need one material from Earth, and the rest can be taken from the lifeless Martian soil as the basis for all buildings. This is chitin – a fibrous substance that is part of the cell walls of fungi, exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects, as well as fish and amphibian scales.
According to researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, chitin can be combined with the surface soil by early Martian settlers to produce new material without special equipment and with minimal energy consumption.
The study found that chitin for use on Mars could come from insects, which could also make up the protein portion of the crew’s diet. The authors stated that chitin mining would be a by-product of the crew’s food and consumption.