It is often believed that the cities of the future, which they want to build in Mars and the Moon, will be all metal and glass, in the style of Star Trek, but the reality is much more diverse and Scientists evaluate a series of options to build environments in space.
NASA is exploring technologies that could develop habitats for astronauts from fungi, and with it start a more sustainable life also on Earth.
As explained by the space agency, this mycoarchitecture project is carried out by the Ames Research Center. At present, They are developing prototypes of houses that will have as a raw material fungi that have a complex underground network known as mycelia.
“Right now, traditional habitat designs for Mars are like being a turtle: Take our homes with us behind our backs, a reliable plan, but with huge energy costs. Instead, we can take advantage of mycelia to grow these habitats when we get there, ”explains Lynn Rothschild, principal investigator of the project.
According to NASA, the future plan is that human explorers carry on their journeys a compact habitat built with inactive fungi, which can be maintained during long trips to places like Mars.
When they arrive, they will display that basic structure and simply add water, fungi can grow around that frame and create a fully functional human habitat, all this while they are contained safely inside the habitat to avoid not contaminating the Martian environment.
The research is part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts project that uses synthetic biology, the study of how we can use life itself as technology, to Develop environments for human space exploration.
“We are far from being able to grow usable habitats for Mars, but the initial research is very advanced to demonstrate the potential of these creative solutions. All that work begins with experimenting with fungi ”, NASA explains.
To send scouts to Mars, in addition to the trip, the big challenge is to give astronauts the tools they need to stay there. That is why it is so important to create a livable home, which will be more than a roof. “Astronauts must meet all their basic needs, just like on Earth, and face the additional challenges of living in a hostile environment in a distant world. ”
“The mycoarchitecture project cannot simply design a shell: it is designing a house. That home is more than a set of walls: it has its own ecosystem, with multiple types of organisms along with the humans for which it is designed, ”says NASA.