India’s space agency ISRO has begun working on a project to build igloos on the Moon. These igloos will act like ‘lunar habitats’ and will be constructed by sending robots and 3D prints to the Moon. Materials for the construction will include lunar soil and some other materials. This project may become one of India’s biggest science programmers.
Scientists have observed progress while using a working model, created by a 3D printer in the space agency’s lunar terrain test facility, reports The Times of India. Scientists have reportedly drawn up five designs of the lunar habitats. They hope that these igloos can contribute to plans of creating outposts on the Moon. Though there is no mission plan as of now, the country’s premiere space agency wants to have tech ready to build such structures.
ISRO satellite director M Annadurai compared the igloos for the Moon to India’s outposts in Antarctica. "We are planning to use the Moon as an outpost - like missions in Antarctica. In the long run, the space station is likely to be scrapped. Many countries, including the US, are considering building more permanent structures on the Moon and working out of there. When that happens, we want India to have contributed," he told TOI.
According to Annadurai, astronauts who head over to the Moon in the future will probably spend more time there than a few hours. “To keep them safe and help them work from there, we need smart materials, which is what we are focusing on building," he said.
Annadurai also told TOI that ISRO has mastered the process of creating lunar simulant (a type of material that is an approximate of the properties of lunar soil), and has about 60 tonnes of it. Its properties match 99.6% with the samples brought from Moon by Apollo missions.