What’s the right formula for safely sending astronauts on the surface of Mars? Scientists had been wondering this for a lot of time, and surely extreme caution is the only option when it comes to such a cosmic journey. There’s no telling for sure what the dangers of space could be.
However, cosmic rays are one of the most impending threats an astronaut has to face if he exits the Earth’s atmosphere unprotected. The atmosphere acts like a shield against cosmic rays, protecting all life forms from our planet. Cosmic rays cannot be taken lightly, as the unprotected exposure to them can cause cancer, circulatory diseases, central nervous system dysfunction, and more.
Radiation-absorbing fungus near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant could be the key
Building shields against the cosmic rays by using a fungus that grows close to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and able to absorb radiation sounds like just another sci-fi movie. However, some scientists are willing to take the idea seriously. The hypothesis has drawn more attention after an experiment was made onboard the International Space Station. A new report says the experiment showed that the fungus was capable of blocking a certain amount of cosmic rays.
Nils Averesch, who is a Stanford researcher and also co-author of the study, declared 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.”
What happened is that an extremely thin sample of the fungus named Cryptococcus neoformans could absorb two percent of the cosmic rays that dropped by onboard of the International Space Station. That may not be enough to protect the astronauts from any upcoming cosmic rays as they’re beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, but we must take into account that the sample was measuring only two millimeters in thickness.
However, we must not open the champagne just yet. Humanity still needs much more research and progress to be able to appoint the first astronauts for a trip to Mars.