Earth’s first off-world colonies will be built on soil

NASA deems interplanetary dust and dirt — also known as regolith — one of the greatest risks to long-term space settlements. On Mars, it’s toxic and magnetic. On the Moon, it wears away at multi-million-dollar instruments and lodges into the slightest crevasses, weakening seals on pressure suits and causing hardware to malfunction. But for all its difficulties, regolith holds astronomical potential, too. It’s considered key to sustainable space exploration and will likely form the foundation — and the roofs, walls and infrastructure––of society’s first off-Earth settlements.

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