On Martian Soil

by Joel Farrier, P.E., (M.ASCE), Principal; URS Corp., San Francisco, CA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 4, Pg. 46-47,68

Document Type: Feature article


Discussions are ongoing about how and when to build human settlements on other worlds. Many scientific discussions have focused on settlements on Mars, and how the initial colonists would design and build the structures they need with minimal materials and equipment from Earth, which would be expensive to transport. The use of Martian soil, or regolith, combined with the design and use of analogues to the geosynthetic materials used here on Earth, could prove critical to these early construction projects. Martian regolith can be used for embankments, insulation, and protection, as soil is on Earth. High density polypropylene can be formed into the rigid and semirigid structures that will be needed for shelter. And galvanized steel, aluminum, and other metals, which would corrode if used in soil on earth, could be confidently used on Mars due to the planet's low pressure and lack of oxygen.

Subject Headings: Mars | Soil settlement | Construction materials | Soil pressure | Regolith | Synthetic materials | Structural settlement

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