Radiation is a big problem in space but so is it on Earth. Nothing is different in terms of the adverse effect it has. However, the fungus found in Chernobyl will now help many astronauts in space to lead a radiation problem-free life. A team of researchers and scientists from Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has tested the viability of using a type of black fungus which is found growing in some of the destroyed nuclear reactors at the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant site to shield astronauts from the harmful effects of radiation.
They have written a complete research paper describing their work and have uploaded it to the bioRxiv preprint site. A group of officials at NASA has made clear their desire to send humans to Mars, but before that can happen, many technical challenges need to be addressed. Protection against radiation is one amongst them.
Chernobyl fungus will help save Astronauts from Radiation
The research team worked together with Space Tango Inc., an aerospace company based in Lexington, Kentucky, for the design and construction of the experimental setup. Both the flight hardware required and the experimental implementation within the International space station were built in TangoLab facilities.
The research focusses on the ability of this particular black fungus found in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which actually helps prevent radiation issues. This is mainly because this fungus feeds off from the radiation matter found in the areas.
On its own, the fungus is known to grow, which means a rocket carrying humans could carry just a small amount with them. Once on Mars, the fungus could be cultivated on a shield structure and allowed to thicken, offering perhaps one layer of protection very nearly free of charge. This new technology will be very helpful for many future space missions.
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Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.