Having successfully mixed cement for the first time in microgravity on the International Space Station, scientists have found that it is slightly different from Earth..
Humanity has been using this or that form of concrete for construction for more than 5 thousand years, but only now it has begun to study the possibilities of its application to create structures on the Moon, Mars and other worlds..
As part of a study of the hardening of cement under microgravity conditions, the astronauts mixed its main elements (lime, calcium silicate, water) in bags and left to dry for 42 days..
As a result, it was found that space cement can indeed solidify in the same way as on Earth, but has some unique microscopic properties. Due to the weak gravity on the ISS, the resulting solution has a remarkably uniform density. A typical sample had characteristic layers due to gravitational settling.
Another important difference, the researchers noted, is that space cement forms many large air pockets, making it more porous. Air bubbles do not rise to the surface of a freshly prepared solution, as they do on Earth..
The image on the left shows the structure of conventional cement, and on the right, mixed and dried on the ISS
Since homogeneity increases strength, and porosity, on the contrary, worsens, but in order to determine the final indicator, the resulting sample will be destroyed later this year, after the completion of the microstructural analysis. This will determine which factor plays a large role..
We also previously reported a breakout in rocket engine technology, which will extend the flight from several hours to a month.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: FT, NASA
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