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Fungi Could Revolutionize the Future of Space Habitats
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Fungi Could Revolutionize the Future of Space Habitats

Seraiah Alexander
Seraiah Alexander
June 28, 2024
2 min

One small step for fungi could mean a giant lead for mankind’s future in space. Scientists at NASA have been exploring the use of fungal mycelium to create habitats on the Moon and Mars. The Mycotecture Off Planet project, backed by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, aims to revolutionize space architecture with sustainable, self-replicating mycelium structures, potentially changing the way we live in space and on Earth​.

Mycelium has been used to create a wide range of products, from clothing to surfboards and even potential space food. Its compact and lightweight structure is sturdy enough to withstand the harsh elements of space and exist in low-gravity environments. It also has fire-resistant and insulating properties that make it ideal for life in space. 

The process begins with a compact material that contains dormant fungi. Since mycelium is a living organism, it’s going to require an energy source, which is where algae and cyanobacteria come into the picture. Since these organisms are capable of converting sunlight into energy through photosynthesis, they can provide the fungi with the water and food they need to keep growing.

Upon arrival in space, astronauts would need to add water to allow the mycelium to grow and form the framework of a building structure that can adapt to the specific needs and environmental conditions of the Moon or Mars. Mycelium’s capability to fill and occupy a predefined mold means it could be used to breathe complex architectural forms that are strong and easy to transport from Earth. 

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“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,” said Lynn Rothschild, the project’s principal investor. “Instead, we can harness mycelia to grow these habitats ourselves when we get there.”

Mycelium offers many advantages over traditional space construction methods. By reducing the amount of materials required to build space structures, it can drastically reduce the amount of energy needed for space missions. 

Yet, one of the most exciting aspects of the project is the potential for self-replicating habitats. Since mycelium can grow and repair itself, it offers a durable and adaptive structure capable of withstanding and responding to extraterrestrial environments. 

Although the project is still in its early stages, researchers are hopeful that this construction method could one day become a viable and affordable solution for building habitats in space.


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science
Seraiah Alexander

Seraiah Alexander

Content Editor

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