Testing Chernobyl fungi as a radiation shield for astronauts

Phys.org  July 27, 2020
Certain fungi thrive in high-radiation environments on Earth, such as the area around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. These organisms appear to perform radiosynthesis using pigments known as melanin to convert gamma-radiation into chemical energy. A team of researchers in the US (University of North Carolina, Stanford University) cultivated a 1.7 mm think lawn of Cladosporium sphaerospermum of the melanized radiotrophic fungus and tested its capability to attenuate ionizing radiation on the International Space Station over a time of 30 days. They found that the radiation below the lawn was 2.17±0.35% lower compared to the negative control. Such composites are promising as a means to increase radiation shielding while reducing overall up-mass, as is compulsory for future Mars-missions…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

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