NASA’s plans to put a foot on Mars and establish there are seemingly approaching possibility. The space agency could ‘grow’ its future structures on the Red Planet, as well as on the Moon, by building them from fungi, a new announcement says.
NASA’s intent is evolving at the NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. Buildings on Mars created from fungi could provide astronauts a greener and more effective alternative to more classical construction techniques.
The main investigator Lynn Rothschild 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 them.”
The mycelium is a structure similar to a branch that fungi use to hold onto soils or other builds. Even though mycelium usually grows out into mushrooms by attentively managing the fungi’s environment, researchers can induce the mycelium to form intricate and rigid structures.
NASA Could Make Future Homes on Mars out of Fungi
Environmental elements, such as temperature, humidity, and airflow, can convert the apparently fungal growth into complete homes.
NASA is currently experimenting with mycelium by enabling the fungus to grow around pre-built structures and then baking it to strengthen it. By merging mycelium with wood chips and ‘yard waste,’ scientists have created blocks similar in construct with bricks.
The study is part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts project or NIAC. The program is searching for synthetic biology that can help future exploration of the Solar System. The research is, however, still young, and NASA said it would take a while until they are able to ‘grow useable habitats for Mars.’
However, it is ongoing and could one day provide construction resources for Earth as well.
Dr. Rothschild said: “When we design for space, we’re free to experiment with new ideas and materials with much more freedom than we would on Earth. “And after these prototypes are designed for other worlds, we can bring them back to ours.”