Have you ever wondered what could happen if Earth becomes uninhabitable?
After Earth, there’s only one planet where humans can survive – MARS.
As phrased by Therese Griebel, deputy associate administrator for programs at Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, “People have always shown they will do what is necessary to survive.” “If the Earth becomes unsustainable, there will be a reason to go somewhere else.”
And NASA has started projecting their focus on Mars.
Currently, NASA is investigating the possibilities of finding technologies that can grow habitable structures on mars. Surprisingly, these technologies include mycelia and fungi, the underlying thread that makes up a whole fungus.
The traditional route of building habitat on Mars is like the turtle, carrying homes in their backs wherever they go. Despite being a reliable plan, it can cause huge energy costs says Lynn Rothschild, the principal investigator on the early-stage project of building homes out of mushrooms on Mars. However, Lynn suggests we can harness mycelia to grow the habitats ourselves once we all get to the planet.
According to astronauts, it might be possible that one day we might all be living under the revolutionary concept called “myco-architecture.” This concept demonstrates how fungal mycelium is extremely stronger than reinforced concrete can grow and repair itself.
Will future homes on Mars be built with fungi?
NASA is already on it; the project is part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program that considers different aspects of life to be a technology. Astronauts can bring in a much reliable and compact habitat built from lightweight materials that are embedded with fungi. This can survive long-term spaceflight. Now when these materials touch the surface, the only thing astronauts will be needing to do is to activate the fungi using water. This habitat will not only protect humans but the lunar of the Martian surface as well since the fungi will be contained within the structure.
Further on, the mycelia will be genetically altered to remain sustainable even when separated from the habitat. This prevents the surface of Mars from getting contaminated. Besides this, it will also help in detecting false positive reading for life on the surface of planet Mars. These structures will then be forced to reinforce its structure and further prevent contamination.
These fungi feed on organic material to produce spores. Inside the spores are the mycelia that disguise like the roots to help build the fungi. This further spreads out into millions of mushrooms.
Planet Mars will neither be a harsh environment for humans and nor for the fungi. However, the fungi will need cyanobacteria for survival. The cyanobacteria with the help of solar energy could convert carbon dioxide and water into food and oxygen. A domed habitat is designed with three layers – the outside layer consisting of the frozen water acts like a roadblock between radiation and the astronauts. The third layer provides water for the second layer i.e. the cyanobacteria that further converts into oxygen. The final layer made up of mycelia gathers nutrients from the cyanobacteria layer.
According to what Rothschild says, “when we design for space, we’re free to experiment with new ideas and materials with much more freedom than we would on Earth.” Once the prototypes complete the design for other worlds, they can directly be brought to our planet.