by Leah Crane
help make it suitable for humans
Aerogel, a lightweight material
made mostly of air, could be used to heat up the ground and protect
it from harmful radiation while allowing enough light through for
plants to grow.
at Harvard University and his colleagues have come up with a
They found that an aerogel panel just two centimeters thick with Mars-like levels of sunlight shining through it could warm the area underneath by more than 50°C.
It also blocked more than 60 per cent of UV radiation, and more than 99.5 per cent of the most harmful type, UVC, while letting through the visible light necessary for photosynthesis.
a translucent, Styrofoam-like material,
be used as a building material on Mars
Its greenhouse effect could melt subsurface water down to depths of several meters, providing not only a safer place for plants and maybe humans but also the start of a water cycle.
It's also more gentle on the Martian environment, potentially allowing us to terraform areas of Mars without damaging the scientific clues or possible life that may exist in other spots.
The next step is to test
structures made of silica aerogels in Mars-like areas on Earth,