This Friday (10), a Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from the U.S. Space Force Station Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a Dragon capsule full of supplies, equipment and a range of science experiments. This will be SpaceX’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-25) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under contract with NASA.
According to the agency, the science directed at the orbital laboratory of this mission includes investigations into the global composition of the Earth’s dust and its effects on climate, ways of building habitats across the Earth with resources of space, human healing in space, among others.
Billions of dust samples on Earth can be tested
Known as EMIT (Investigation of the Mineral Origin of the Earth’s Surface), one of the studies will be spent next year measuring the mineral composition of dust in the driest landscapes on Earth. At a press conference last week, Robert Green, chief investigator of the EMIT mission, explained the process he called the “planet’s mineral dust cycle”.
According to the scientist, the dust blown into the Earth’s atmosphere by the strong winds of the deserts travels thousands of kilometers. The mineral content of this atmospheric dust affects the interconnected global climate system, and understanding the composition of these minerals is key to understanding how this is done.
“Depending on the minerals present, for example, dust in the atmosphere absorbs and reflects sunlight in different ways, heating or cooling areas, affecting cloud formation and atmospheric chemistry,” he said. says Green, and added that this kind of dust can also serve as a rich store. of nutrients when it resides in the ocean or on land.
Currently, he says, there are only 5,000 mineral samples from Earth’s global dust cycle in the hands of scientists. With EMIT, this number is likely to increase significantly.
Once attached to the ISS External Logistics Module 1, EMIT (which represents the largest payload of the CRS-25 mission) will be able to spectroscopically analyze more than one billion dust samples from around the planet. Scientists hope to use this data to update models of global systems for activities such as weather forecasting and climate research.
Space bricks to build exploration colonies
As planned missions to the Moon and even to Mars get closer and closer, there is a growing need to understand how to build sustainable habitats from local resources. If building materials like steel and concrete are heavy and extremely ineffective for launching into orbit, imagine going to the Moon or the Red Planet.
For this reason, students at Stanford University in California are studying how microgravity affects the formation of an alternative concrete that mixes an organic molecule with water and resources.on the spotsuch as lunar regolith or Martian dust, to create biopolymer (BPC) soil composites.