Moon and Mars

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Moon and Mars

There might be three ways to build a habitat on the Moon or Mars. You could bring along everything you need for the habitat from Earth. You could build it from local materials. Or, according to one NASA research team, you could grow it — using fungi.

The team has been working on the technique for years. It uses mycelia — the part of a fungus that grows out of sight. It’s tough, and it can form large networks of interlocking threads. And it can grow quickly.

Researchers have come up with several possible ways to use mycelia. One would be mixing it with the dirt on the Moon or Mars to make bricks. Another would be to make a layered structure, with water ice, the fungi, and a type of algae. And yet another would use an inflatable structure, with “baked” mycelia forming rigid walls and algae producing oxygen to inflate it.

For Mars, the mycelia would have to be engineered in a way that it couldn’t escape and take root on the Red Planet — potentially destroying evidence of any microscopic life there.

So there’s still a lot of work to be done before anyone can produce a “fungal growth” on the Moon or Mars.

The two worlds are close together in the early morning sky the next few days. Mars looks like a bright star. It will stand to the lower left of the Moon at dawn tomorrow, and about the same distance to the upper right of the Moon on Monday.

We’ll have more about Mars tomorrow.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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