Science fiction often imagines our future on Mars and other planets as travel by machines, with metallic cities and flying cars rising above dunes of red sand. But the truth could also be even stranger – and “greener.” rather than habitats made from metal and glass, NASA is exploring technologies that would grow structures out of fungi to become our future homes within the stars, and maybe cause more sustainable ways of living on Earth also .
The myco-architecture project out of NASA’s Ames research facility in California’s Silicon Valley is prototyping technologies that would “grow” habitats on the Moon, Mars and beyond out of life – specifically, fungi and therefore the unseen underground threads that structure the most a part of the fungus, referred to as mycelia.
“Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are sort of a turtle — carrying our homes with us on our backs – a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs,” said Lynn Rothschild, the PI on the early-stage project. “Instead, we will harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves once we get there.”
Ultimately, the project envisions a future where human explorers can bring a compact habitat built out of a light-weight material with dormant fungi which will last on long journeys to places like Mars. Upon arrival, by unfolding that basic structure and easily adding water, the fungi are going to be ready to grow around that framework into a totally functional human habitat – all while being safely contained within the habitat to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.
This research is supported through the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, referred to as NIAC, and is a component of a field referred to as synthetic biology – the study of how we will use life itself as technology, during this case fungi. We’re a really great distance from having the ability to grow useable habitats for Mars, but the early-stage research is well under thanks to prove the potential of those creative solutions. that employment all starts with experimenting with fungi.
Read More: www.nasa.gov