Concrete, a mixture of gravel, rocks, and sand glued together with a paste made of cement powder and water, is currently used for Earth buildings.
International Space Station (ISS) astronauts recently examined cement solidification in microgravity to help answer this question and shared their findings in a paper published in Frontiers in Materials.
For the Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS) project, researchers mixed water and tricalcium silicate (C S) outside of Earth’s gravity for the first time.
In the first evaluation, concrete samples mixed aboard the space station showed changes in the cement microstructure compared to those mixed on our planet.
A key difference was an increase in the presence of more open spaces (porosity) and researchers will have to measure the strength of the space-formed concrete to see if its suitable for future habitats on the moon and Red Planet.
The space station’s microgravity environment is important for understanding how cement may hydrate on Mars and the moon.
Now, researchers are evaluating cement samples that contain simulated lunar particles processed aboard the space station at different levels of gravity.