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We Can Build A Future Martian Colony Literally Using The Blood, Sweat Or Tears Of Astronauts, Say Scientists

Jamie Carter
Jamie Carter
Senior Contributor
I inspire people to go stargazing, watch the Moon, enjoy the night sky

Scientists in the UK have created a super-strong concrete-like material made of extra-terrestrial dust along with the blood, sweat and tears of astronauts.

Their study, published today in the journal Materials Today Bio, could improve the prospects for constructing bases and even colonies on the Moon and Mars. The cost of taking a single brick to Mars is estimated at about US$2 million.

Likely unable to take raw materials with them, future astronauts and colonists will need to use in-situ resources, such as loose rock and Martian regolith (soil) and some water deposits.

However, scientists have demonstrated that a forgotten resource—the astronauts themselves—could be decisive. They discovered that human serum albumin, a common protein from blood plasma, can “curdle” to tightly hold regolith together, producing a concrete-like material they call “AstroCrete.”

It’s about as strong as regular concrete, but the team went one better. By adding urea—a compound found in urine, sweat and tears—the strength of AstroCrete was increased by over 300%. 

The only trouble is ... it’s brown:

His teams calculations suggest that six astronauts could produce about 500 kg of high-strength AstroCrete during a two-year mission to Mars.

Moreover, if this AstroCrete was used as a mortar for sandbags it’s reckoned that each crew member could produce enough to expand the habitat to support an additional crew member. Animal blood was historically used as a binder for mortar.


That would effectively doubling the shelter available for astronauts with each successive mission.

“Scientists have been trying to develop viable technologies to produce concrete-like materials on the surface of Mars, but we never stopped to think that the answer might be inside us all along”, said Dr. Aled Roberts from The University of Manchester. “It is exciting that a major challenge of the space age may have found its solution based on inspirations from medieval technology.”

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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Jamie Carter

I'm an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer writing about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing, astro-travel,

The Newest iPad And iPad Mini Bring More Pro Features For The Same Low Cost, Ships September 24

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Quentyn Kennemer
Forbes Staff
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Quentyn is a devout tech head whose life story surrounds the matter.
All products and services featured are independently selected by Forbes Vetted contributors and editors. When you make a purchase through links on this page, we may earn a commission.

With the iPad Pro getting massive, game-changing upgrades this past Spring—complete with new displays and an M1 chipset—many wondered whether Apple would treat its smaller, older iPads to similar makeovers. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long. At long last, Apple today announced availability of two new iPad devices. We’re due upgrades for not just the base iPad model, but also for the iPad Mini.

Neither device can match wits with the iPad Pro, but Apple has narrowed the gap with a feature set that’s increasingly similar, including faster processors, beefier cameras, Apple Pencil support and more. And all of this comes in at the same approachable sticker prices these particular models have become known for.

You can read on for more about the latest iPads, but if you’re interested in all the other announcements coming out of Cupertino today, check back for the latest on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, plus everything that’s new with the latest Apple Watch Series 7.


What’s New on the Newest iPad

iPad (2021) - Wi-Fi, Space Gray

$329Starting price for 64GB Wi-Fi model.
$329Starting price for 64GB Wi-Fi model.

Starting at $329, the standard 10.2-inch iPad continues its design traditions on the outside, making way for those upgrading within the same family to use the same accessories they’ve accumulated, known and loved over the years. Beyond that, the new support for Apple Pencil (first generation) and Smart Keyboard make it a far more flexible device for those with artistic or productivity needs.

The iPad gets a sizable under-hood upgrade with the A13 Bionic chip, which is a little dated compared to Apple’s latest silicon, but still represents a 20% improvement in speed over the last generation. It should handle almost anything the iPad experience offers, including all the advanced games and apps now available in the App Store.

You’ll also enjoy a new 12MP ultrawide front-facing camera sensor that supports Center Stage. With it, you’ll be able to record video or carry out FaceTime calls with the ability to keep yourself within the frame should you need to stretch your legs. And while the display technology doesn’t change a ton here, iPad owners will now have access to True Tone for the first time, giving you accurate colors that adjust dynamically based on ambient light conditions.

Shipping with iPad OS 15, the iPad now includes double the storage capacity at its base $329 cost, bringing your total minimum overhead to 64GB. You’ll be able to snag one in either Space Gray or Silver, with first orders being collected today, September 14. Look for yours to arrive on September 24 if you decide to order one. You can add cellular data over gigabit LTE to your configuration for $130 more.

What’s New on the Newest iPad Mini

iPad Mini (2021) - Wi-Fi, Space Gray

$499Starting price for 64GB Wi-Fi model.
$499Starting price for 64GB Wi-Fi model.

The iPad Mini also got some major love this go around, with a complete redesign underscoring a long list of changes to look forward to. The most noticeable change will be its added screen real estate and rounded bezels ala the iPad Pro family. The result is a bigger, 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display (also now with True Tone, wide color gamut and 500-nit brightness) that doesn’t compromise Mini’s petite stature. One compromise Apple had to make, however, was removing the home button, but between iPadOS 15’s gestures and Touch ID now being built into the side-mounted power button, you won’t be missing any functionality.

The newest A15 chip inside the latest model easily trumps the A12 Bionic from the previous generation, with a 40% bump in CPU and 80% improvement in GPU performance. The chip should have enough power to handle most graphically rich games with ease, not to mention all the other powerful apps available. Beyond raw power, it also now uses that power more smartly with a new onboard neural engine, giving it on-device computational power dedicated to AI-driven applications. That means you’ll be able to use, say, a real-time translation app with no internet connection, and it should increase the overall speed of executing any machine learning tasks.

One of the most popular additions to the iPad Mini will be USB-C connectivity for data and charging, not just because it further buries proprietary practices, but also because it enables instant access to a wide world of accessories you can hook up to your tablet. Plus, data transfers will be much faster with up to 10 times more speed compared to the previous generation’s Lightning connector. And circling back to those accessories, the iPad Mini now supports the second-generation Apple Pencil, complete with a magnetic charging bay at the top of the device to keep it powered up and ready to go whenever you need.

Like the iPad, the Mini will also receive new 12MP cameras on the front and rear, the former now supporting the subject-tracking Center Stage feature, and the latter adding the A15 Bionic’s smooth image signal processing, allowing you to shoot improved photos with high dynamic range. Those cameras will record 4K video too, which is neat for those fringe scenarios where you’ll actually want to use a big slab for such a task. It also gets stereo speakers in landscape mode, making this a potential primary device for video calling your family and friends, and makes it much more appetizing as a multimedia device when headphones or external speakers are unavailable.

The iPad Mini now starts at $499, which is a fair price for something that’s looking, sounding and performing more like an iPad Air with each iteration. Available in both Wi-Fi only and Cellular with 5G varieties (that one increases your starting total to $649), you’ll be able to snap one up in four different colors—Purple, Pink, Starlight and Space Gray—and you can stake your claim immediately as pre-orders start right now.

Both the newest iPad and the iPad Mini are shipping Friday, September 24. 

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Quentyn Kennemer

With an obsession for almost any gadget he's laid eyes on since his hands were big enough to hold them, Quentyn Kennemer has found himself embroiled in the world of