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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

NASA Explores 3-D Printing with Moon Rock

Astronauts one day could use Regolith from the moon’s surface to 3-D print their mission shelters and equipment. Credit: NASA

Washington State University researchers have been 3-D printing with an unusual substance. It’s not powdered plastic or metal, but regolith. Never heard of it? Regolith is a sedimentary material made up of broken rock, dust, soil and other materials. It’s also the material that makes up most of the Moon’s surface.

NASA commissioned Washington State University professor Dr. Amit Bandyopadhyay and his team to investigate the feasibility of 3-D printing with regolith specifically to research making a Moon base and scientific equipment for future astronauts, since it is the Moon’s most abundant substance.

Launching material into space and then ferrying it along to the Moon is enormously expensive, which is why we don’t have many lunar rocks here on Earth. (The regolith that Bandyopadhyay and his team used was gathered from asteroids that crashed into our planet.)

NASA hopes the experiments show that astronauts on future lunar missions could use 3-D printers fed with regolith to their base and tools and equipment. The efficiency of such a move is obvious, but is it too pie in the sky? Check out the video below. (via Ponoko)

 

 

 

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