NASA predicts that future houses on the Moon and Mars can be made from a substance called ‘mycelium’ produced by mushrooms. According to the space agency, mycelium will reduce the delivery of excess material into space and save energy in buildings.
NASA’s Ames Research Center in California is developing and testing prototype technologies that will allow future explorers to build their own homes in the Moon and Mars colonies. The material consists of mycelium produced by fungi. Mycelium is defined as yarn-like structures found in some fungal species.
The use of mycelium in sustainable packaging is not a new idea, but an ongoing architectural project at the Ames Research Center takes technology a step further by testing myceliums to create environmentally friendly and easily manufactured houses on other planets. NASA shared photos of a stool of mycelium and bricks made of the same cork.
One of the biggest benefits of using mycelium to build homes will be energy savings. Instead of sending residential components into space and wasting much fuel and space, teams will be able to grow the structures themselves when they arrive. This will also eliminate the need to dismantle and relocate structures on the Moon and Mars. Teams will be able to meet everything they need by growing mycelium when they need it.
Growing fungi in space can be difficult, and of course there will be some problems in space. Astronauts will need to water the homes to stimulate growth in mycelium. NASA stressed that these structures would isolate them to avoid image pollution.
According to NASA, cyanobacteria will be able to produce the oxygen necessary for the growth of mycelium. The space agency set out a habitat consisting of a dome and 3 layers. The outer habitat will be made of frozen water to protect against radiation and irrigate the cyanobacterial layer. In the innermost layer, mycelium will be made to create a solid structure.
The difficult conditions of the Moon and Mars will require new ways of life. Growing homes with mycelium in this way may be a more practical solution rather than building heavy materials.