How Chernobyl Fungus Can be Used for Safer Space Exploration

Nature seems to always find a better and safer way of doing things. It also has the potential to threaten our lives through all sorts of ways, especially when we go beyond the Earth’s protective shield. Cosmic radiation is one of those ways when the atmosphere is not around anymore. This type of radiation can cause cancer and many other serious health problems.

But astronauts may not need to worry about cosmic radiation anymore pretty soon, due to a fungus that grows near the former Chernobyl nuclear power center from Ukraine. Although what happened at Chernobyl in 1986 was overall a disaster, it seems like it can help future space explorations a lot.

The melanin fungi could be the key

Scientists suspect that these fungi can provide excellent ways of survival for astronauts in the face of the cosmic radiation. Scientists from California’s Stanford University and the University of North Carolina are the ones studying the miraculous properties of the fungus. The fungus is called Cladosporium sphaerospermum, and it was sent for further testing to the International Space Station.

Judging from the results scientists have, melanin from the cell walls of some fungi can absorb radiation and turn it into chemical energy. Scientists aim to create protective shields for future astronauts using the fungus containing melanin.

The researchers observed the growth of the fungus on the ISS for 30 days. Radiation levels were measured, and the conclusion was that they decreased “by at least 1.82 percent and potentially up to 5.04 percent,”.

Chernobyl represented the most significant nuclear disaster the world ever had. A reactor exploded there in 1986, releasing huge amounts of radiation into the atmosphere. The event caused the death of 30 operators and firemen in less than three months, as well as killing other people later that were affected by the radiation.

Melanie J. Gullett
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