David Baillot, materials processed by Brian J. Chow and Yu Qiao

Bricks made of martian soil may be stronger than steel-reinforced concrete

Even The Martian’s Mark Watney didn’t have this trick up his spacesuit sleeve. Materials scientists have now created super sturdy bricks, made of material similar to martian soil, Newsweek reports. The bricks, which the researchers say are stronger than steel-reinforced concrete, are the latest effort to make building blocks from materials readily available on the Red Planet. Prior attempts required treating martianlike dirt with heat or chemicals, but the new study, published today in Scientific Reports, shows that simple pressure can compact small red bricks held together by iron oxide in the soil. The finding might be too late for Watney, but maybe not for future Mars-bound travelers.