July 14, 2024
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Discovery

'ESA Space Bricks' landing in Lego stores could help build a real Artemis moon base

June 18, 2024

— Scientists may have found the “building bricks” for future lunar bases in the toy store, and the public will soon be able to see them there too.

Researchers at the European Space Agency (ESA) discovered more than inspiration when they looked at Lego sets as they worked on possible designs for habitats, launch pads and other structures for astronauts to use on the moon as part of NASA's Artemis program. . Using the iconic plastic pieces as a model, the ESA team used 3D printers to create similar bricks made partly of meteorite to show that tubes at the bottom fit with bolts at the top, just like the toy.

“My team and I love creative construction and we had the idea of ​​exploring whether space dust could be formed into a brick similar to a Lego brick so we could try different construction techniques,” said Aidan Cowley, science officer at the ESA, in a published statement. by Lego on Tuesday (June 18). “The result is amazing and although the bricks may look a little rougher than usual, the most important thing is that the clutch power still works, allowing us to play and test our designs.”

He Resulting “ESA space bricks” It will next be on display for three months starting June 24 at select Lego stores in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Australia, as well as at Lego House in Billund, Denmark (see below ). for a complete list of locations).

“No one has ever built a structure on the Moon, so we have to determine not only how we build them but also what we build them with, since we can't take any materials with us,” Cowley said.

When on the Moon, the natural resource to use would be regolith, the layer of loose rock and dust that covers the lunar surface. A limited amount of authentic regolith is found on Earth, having been brought back by the six Apollo flights that carried American astronauts on the Moon, three Russian robotic Luna missions and the Chinese Chang'e-5 sample return probe (Chang'e-6 is currently on its way back to Earth carrying the first material collected from the far side of the Moon) .

As a substitute for regolith, the ESA team used dust from a 4.5 million-year-old meteorite, to which polylactide (a biodegradable polymer) and a lunar regolith simulant were added to form the raw material for their 3D printers. The meteorite was originally found in northwest Africa 24 years ago. Classified as L3-6, the rock was a brecciated stone, composed of large metal grains, inclusions, chondrules and elements.

With structural testing complete, ESA's Space Bricks have been given a new mission: “to inspire the builders of tomorrow about how building with Lego bricks can help solve out-of-this-world problems.”

“The fact that the ESA team is using Lego System-in-Play to advance space travel shows children that the sky really is the limit when it comes to building with Lego bricks and We hope it encourages the children. try to build their own space shelters,” said Daniel Meehan, creative lead at the Lego Group.

Fifteen of ESA's Space Bricks will be displayed at Lego locations around the world, including:

  • The LEGO Store, Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

  • The LEGO Store, Disney Springs, Florida

  • The LEGO Store, Water Tower Place, Chicago

  • The LEGO Store, Disneyland Resort, California

  • The LEGO Store, 5th Avenue, New York

  • The LEGO Store, West Edmonton

  • The LEGO Store, Leicester Square, London

  • The LEGO Store, Munich City Center

  • The LEGO Store, Copenhagen

  • The LEGO store, Barcelona

  • The LEGO Store, Amsterdam

  • The LEGO Store, Pitt Street Mall, Sydney

ESA has partnered with NASA to carry out the Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon for the first time since the Apollo missions more than 50 years ago. Together with Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), ESA's 22 member states are supporting the assembly of Gateway, a human-manned lunar orbit platform that will allow astronauts to land on the Moon's south pole.

The “ESA space bricks” were 3D printed from a raw material made from a 4.5 million-year-old meteorite, a polylactide simulant and regolith as a test to see if they could be used as lunar construction bricks. (Lego)

As a substitute for lunar regolith, scientists from the European Space Agency shot down a meteorite found in 2000 in northwest Africa. (Lego)

Fourteen Lego stores will display ESA space bricks from June 24 to September 20, 2024 in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain and Australia. (Lego)

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