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Space Bricks: How LEGO® Bricks Are Helping Scientists Build on the Moon

Space Bricks: How LEGO® Bricks Are Helping Scientists Build on the Moon

You know how we often say that building with LEGO® bricks can inspire young builders and future scientists to solve the most cosmic of problems? Inspired by the LEGO System in Play, scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have turned to a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite, to print bricks in 3D. And these LEGO brick-like elements are part of an epic project to design (and soon build) launch pads and astronaut shelters on the Moon. Astronaut shelters. On. The. Moon! Wait, it gets better: these ESA Space Bricks will be on display in select LEGO Retail Stores and the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, from June 24th to September 20th, 2024. See you there? We’ll be the ones pressed against the glass, wishing we could play with them.

Wow, wow, wow... bricks made of space dust?

That’s right – specifically regolith. Let’s back up a bit.

When the ESA team started exploring how to build structures on the Moon, they naturally thought of using Moon materials for construction: they’re right there for the picking, you don’t have to transport tons upon tons of Earth bricks all the way up, etc. The surface of the Moon is covered in a material called regolith. But apart from the samples collected by the Apollo missions, there’s zero regolith on Earth. Boo.

In order to prototype and test their upcoming space construction, and with no regolith at hand, the ESA team had to think creatively (we LOVE that). What’s the closest thing they have to regolith? Meteorite dust. This particular meteorite, discovered in Northwest Africa in 2000, is about 4.5 billion years old and packed with space materials like metal grains and chondrules. By mixing this meteorite dust with a bit of polylactide and regolith simulant (you know, as you do), the team was able to 3D-print bricks that mimic and behave just like LEGO bricks.

Very cool! But do they have clutch power?

Yes, they do! These bricks click and snap together just like the LEGO bricks that inspired them, letting the ESA team test different space building techniques down here on Earth.

ESA Science Officer Aidan Cowley explains: “No one has ever built a structure on the Moon, so we have to work out not only how we build them but what we build them out of, as we can’t take any materials with us.”

“My team and I love creative construction and had the idea to explore whether space dust could be formed into a brick similar to a LEGO brick, so we could test different building techniques. The result is amazing, and while the bricks may look a little rougher than usual, importantly the clutch power still works, enabling us to play and test our designs.”

Playing and testing: a perfect example of creativity and scientific innovation clicking together.

Can we... can we see them?

To show off their key role in developing potential Moon infrastructure, fifteen of these space bricks will be on display at the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark, and select LEGO Stores globally. What an epic way to inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts and builders! Come to the exhibit from June 24th to September 20th, 2024, to see these extraordinary bricks for yourself.

The ESA Space Bricks will be on display in the following LEGO Stores:

USA

The LEGO Store, Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota

The LEGO Store, Disney Springs, Florida

The LEGO Store, Water Tower Place, Chicago

The LEGO Store, Disneyland Resort, California

The LEGO Store, 5th Avenue, New York

Canada

The LEGO Store, West Edmonton

UK

The LEGO Store, Leicester Square, London

Germany

The LEGO Store, München Zentrum

The LEGO Store, Cologne

Denmark

The LEGO Store, Copenhagen

LEGO House, Billund

Spain

The LEGO Store, Barcelona

France

The LEGO Store, Paris

Netherlands

The LEGO Store, Amsterdam

Australia

The LEGO Store, Sydney

A whopping 87% of Gen Alpha kids are into space, so this is right up their alley

We firmly believe so. Let’s hear from Daniel Meehan, Creative Lead at the LEGO Group: “We recently found out that space remains an area of huge curiosity with 87% of Gen Alpha kids interested in discovering new planets, stars and galaxies. With the ESA team using the LEGO System in Play to advance space travel, it shows kids the sky really is the limit when it comes to LEGO brick building, and we hope it encourages children to have a go at building their own space shelters!” There you have it. Creativity, play and science, combined together to create Space Bricks made of meteorite dust. The future is here, and it’s looking mighty playful.