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Early settlers on Mars could build their homes using a material that includes chitin, which is a a fibrous substance made by a wide variety of living organisms from fish to fungi. The versatile new material was developed by Javier Fernandez and colleagues at Singapore University of Technology and Design. They used it to create objects ranging from cartoon figures and basic tools, to scale models of sturdy Martian shelters.

Manned missions to Mars have been discussed for decades, but NASA has now expressed hopes that a long-term settlement on the Red Planet could be achieved by the late 2030s. Among the immense challenges that colonizers will face is the scarcity of basic resources on the Martian surface. This is also becoming an issue here on Earth, where certain resources are being rapidly consumed and there is a movement towards sustainable and circular manufacturing processes.

One promising solution is to create materials using chitin — an abundant biological polymer that is made by a wide range of living things. While it is highly unlikely that chitin-producing organisms currently live on Mars, they could easily be part of an artificial ecosystem created on the planet.

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Category: Science
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