These are the LEGO-inspired ‘space bricks’ with which the ESA wants to build a lunar base

Space exploration has gained new momentum in recent years thanks to private initiatives and new programs from space agencies such as the Artemis of the POTwhich includes returning to the Moon and reaching new planets such as Mars. Among the many challenges to be solved is that of installing a permanent lunar base and on how and with what to do it is working European Space AgencyESA for its acronym in English.

The THAT has announced that its scientists have developed ‘Space bricks’ made from meteorite dust and inspired by LEGO pieces that could allow a way to build on the Moon using the satellite’s natural resources.

The idea is to be able to do it using lunar regolith. instead of materials transported from EarthHowever, lunar regolith, the layer of fragments and minerals found on the surface of the Moon, There is little on Earthonly the samples brought back by some missions. For this reason, these space bricks have been Made using dust from a 4.5 billion year old meteorite discovered in northwest Africa 24 years ago. It is composed of various types of rockincluding large metal grains and chondrules formed from droplets of molten rock.

Space brick made from meteorite dust.ESA / LEGO.

Before we can build structures on the Moon, ESA needs to confirm whether space material can be used to create building blocksso he has tested this theory on a smaller scale.

The bricks, formed from a mixture with meteorite dust, have been produced with a 3D printer taking a shape similar to the classic LEGO plastic bricksThe pieces fit together in the same way as regular LEGO pieces that children play with, but they are rougher looking and can only be one colour: space gray.

‘No one 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 to scientifically understand the limits of these techniques,’ he said. Aidan CowleyESA’s head of science, said in a statement.

This technology could be used to create a base where astronauts can stay during their visits to the Moonas part of the Artemis missions planned for the return of humans to the lunar surface.

‘My team and I love creative building and we had the idea to explore whether space dust could be transformed into a brick similar to a LEGO brick, so we could test out different building techniques. The result is amazing and although the bricks may look a little rougher than usual, The most important thing is that the gripping power still workswhich allows us to play and test our designs,’ says Cowley.

Space bricks.
Space bricks.ESA / LEGO.

Some of these bricks will be on display at selected LEGO stores from June 24 to September 20, 2024 to spark children’s interest in space. In Spainwill be able to see at the LEGO store in Barcelona.

Emmet FletcherHead of ESA’s Branding and Partnerships Office, said: ‘It’s no secret that real-world scientists and engineers sometimes test ideas with LEGO bricks. ESA’s space bricks They are an ingenious way to inspire young people and show them how play and the power of imagination also play an important role in space science.‘.