Is it true that mushroom mycelium could be used to protect astronauts from radiation?

by Mike
(Moncton, ON)

A fantasy image of mushrooms surrounding an astronaut.

A fantasy image of mushrooms surrounding an astronaut.


I don’t remember where, but I read somewhere that mycelium can be used to protect astronauts, in their space vehicles, and maybe when building shelters for people on the moon or Mars. Is this true? If so, how does it work?



Mike, hi

Love the question!

The concept of using fungal mycelium to protect astronauts from radiation in space is based on the observation that certain types of fungi can grow in high-radiation environments and have the ability to absorb or deflect radiation.

Fungi like Cryptococcus neoformans and Cladosporium sphaerospermum have been found thriving in environments with high radiation levels, such as the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. These fungi contain melanin, a pigment that can absorb and dissipate ionizing radiation, converting it into less harmful forms of energy.

The idea is to use the mycelium of radiation-resistant fungi to create a shield or a protective layer around spacecraft, habitats, or even spacesuits. This layer of mycelium would help protect astronauts from harmful space radiation, such as cosmic rays and solar radiation.

One way this might work is by incorporating fungal mycelium into the design of spacecraft materials, such as incorporating it into the walls of the spacecraft or habitats. As the mycelium grows, it would create a dense, interconnected network that would function as a living radiation shield.

Another option is to develop lightweight, flexible mycelium-based materials that could be applied to spacesuits or other equipment.

Using fungal mycelium for radiation protection in space is still an emerging area of research, and more studies are needed to better understand the potential benefits and limitations of this approach. However, it represents an innovative and sustainable way of addressing the challenges of long-term space travel and exploration.

I hope this answers your question!


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