Extraterrestrial Construction Materials—not your average civil engineering research

August 23, 2019

Dr. M. Z. Naser was recently published in the Progress of Materials Science journal, a top ranked journal in General Materials Science.   The paper is titled  Extraterrestrial Construction Materials, has been cited by several significant researchers in construction materials and definitely changes the spectrum of civil engineering research.


In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), together with the European Space Agency (ESA), revealed plans to resume manned exploration missions and to establish permanent human presence in outposts (habitats) on the Moon and Mars by 2040. In order to promote feasible and sustainable space exploration, these habitats are envisioned to be built from lunar and Martian in-situ resources. Our understanding of such indigenous resources, from materials science, construction and structural engineering points of view, is lacking and continues to hinder further development of Earth-independent habitats. In order to bridge this knowledge gap, a comprehensive assessment on the physical features and property characteristics of extraterrestrial construction materials such as those exploited from the Moon and Mars, mined from near-earth objects (NEOs), or cultured through modern technologies is presented herein. This review explores the suitability of construction materials derived from lunar and Martian regolith along with concrete derivatives, space-native metals and composites, as well as advanced and non-traditional materials for interplanetary construction. This review also identifies processing techniques suitable to produce non-terrestrial construction materials in the alien environment of space (i.e. vacuum, low gravity, etc.) and highlights emerging trends and future directions to stimulate further research in this area.

“The vocabulary in this new book on Extraterrestrial Construction Techniques is amazing, from the design of ‘Earth-independent habitats’ to the use of ‘space-native metals’ and other ‘non-terrestrial’ construction materials in the alien environment of space.

The full manuscript also contains a section on ‘high-fidelity simulants’—another great phrase—as well as one on artificial crystal-growth techniques in space. Here, the ideas themselves are architecturally evocative: It is envisioned that fragments of bio-like materials could be launched in an inactive state during space flight, and once landed at the Moon or Mars, would start to grow into construction materials or even pre-engineered habitats.” Controlled crystal architecture!

You can easily imagine some new version of Jack and the Beanstalk, about a relentlessly growing crystal building, a future folktale for life in space.”
Geoff Manaugh, author of highly acclaimed BLDBLOG