Could buildings on the moon be made from MUSHROOMS? NASA proposes that fungi could used to build structures because it easy to transport into space and is sturdy when it grows
- NASA’s new project suggests building Martian habitats from mushrooms
- Fungus consist of branching structures that could form ‘complex structures’
- Astronauts could easily transport the fungus and add water for them to grow
- NASA is also looking at ways to use mushrooms in homes here on Earth
The future on the moon could be funky.
NASA scientists have suggested using mushrooms to grow habitats on the lunar surface and Mars, which could even lead to more sustainable homes on Earth.
The concept focuses on the mycelia parts of a fungus, which consist of branching thread-like structures, which could form ‘complex structures with extreme precision’.
The structure consist of a three-layered dome with water ice on the outside, cyanobacteria in the middle and an inner layer of mycelia, which feeds and grows around a framework to create the Mars home.
NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is working on the design and envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a lightweight material with dormant fungi that will last on long journeys to places.
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The concept focuses on the mycelia parts of a fungus, which consist of branching thread-like structures, which could form ‘complex structures with extreme precision’
Lynn Rothschild, the principal investigator on the early-stage project, said: ‘Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are like a turtle — carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs.’
‘Instead, we can harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there.’
The project foresees astronauts hauling compact habitat builds made of lightweight material to distant worlds contain dormant mushrooms.
Once the crew lands at their destination, they can unfold the structure and just add water to it.
NASA explained that even ‘if some mycelia somehow escaped, they will be genetically altered to be incapable of surviving outside the habitat’
The project foresees astronauts hauling compact habitat builds made of lightweight material to distant worlds contain dormant mushrooms. Once the crew lands at their destination, they can unfold the structure and just add water to it
The fungi will be able to grow around that framework into a fully functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.
The cyanobacteria layer can produce water and create oxygen for the astronauts by photosynthesizing the outside light that shines through the icy layers.
NASA explained that even ‘if some mycelia somehow escaped, they will be genetically altered to be incapable of surviving outside the habitat.’
The team also believes this process could be used for water filtration and biomining systems that can extract minerals from wastewater as well as bioluminescent lighting, humidity regulation and even self-generating habitats capable of healing themselves.
And it can do the same work here on Earth.
‘When we design for space, we’re free to experiment with new ideas and materials with much more freedom than we would on Earth,’ said Rothschild. ‘And after these prototypes are designed for other worlds, we can bring them back to ours.’
WHEN IS NASA GOING BACK TO THE MOON?
In a statement in March, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine doubled down on plans to send humans first to the moon and then to Mars and said NASA is on track to have humans back on the moon by 2028.
The plan relies on the developing Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, along with the Gateway orbital platform.
SLS and Orion are expected to be ready for their first uncrewed test flight in 2020.
Construction on Gateway – an orbiting lunar outpost – is expected to begin as soon as 2022.
‘We will go to the Moon in the next decade with innovative, new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before,’ Bridenstine said.
‘This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay.
‘We will use what we learn as we move forward to the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.’
Vice President Mike Pence, however, tore up these plans and statements when he unexpectedly revealed a new deadline in March stating intentions to put humans on the moon by 2024 – four years earlier.
The VP called on NASA to ‘reignite the spark of urgency’ for space exploration and make it a priority to set ‘bold goals’ and stay on schedule.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine added a week later, at the start of April, that the agency would get ‘really close’ to delivering a plan by April 15.
This has been missed by several weeks and the House Science Committee is now vocalising its displeasure at having no viable plan or programme from the space agency.