Unfortunately, distance is not the only hindrance when it comes to a trip to Mars. The deadly cosmic rays also pose a significant threat to the health of any astronaut that will be appointed for such an ambitious cosmic journey.
But the good news is that scientists are always trying to find new ways of making cosmic exploration easier. Building shields using radiation-absorbing fungus that grows close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant seems like just another scenario for sci-fi movies, but plenty of scientists are actually willing to take the idea seriously.
Experiment from the International Space Station provides hope
A new report reveals that the fungus was able to block cosmic rays during a small test made onboard of the International Space Station.
Nils Averesch, Stanford researcher and also co-author of the study, tells us more about the fungus:
What makes the fungus great is that you only need a few grams to start out,
It self-replicates and self-heals, so even if there’s a solar flare that damages the radiation shield significantly, it will be able to grow back in a few days.
More precisely, an extremely thin sample of the fungus dubbed as Cryptococcus neoformans was able to block and even absorb two percent from the cosmic rays that came in contact with it while it was on the ISS. While that’s not enough to protect the astronauts from any cosmic rays, we must mention that the sample in question was only two millimeters thick.
A travel to Mars seems mandatory nowadays when the Earth is struck by plenty of scourges. The Artemis program of NASA could mean the ticket to Mars for the first humans if all goes as planned. The American space agency firstly wants to send humans to the Moon again. If it all goes well, Mars is the next destination. However, colonizing the Red Planet is a lifetime goal, but the first steps need to be taken.