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Hernernobil fungi could protect astronauts from radiation on deep space missions



A type of mushroom found at the site of the hernernobil nuclear disaster was sent into space on a research project aimed at keeping astronauts safe from radiation on deep space missions.

“The greatest danger to humans in deep space research missions is radiation,” the scientists explain in an abstract of a paper uploaded to bioRxiv’s default biology server. The fungus, which is blooming at the hernobil site, appears to perform “radiation” using melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy.

The impact of radiation is a particular concern for long-haul space flights to places such as Mars.

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Scientists from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Stanford University and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics set up the research project, which used the fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum. A petri dish containing the fungus was monitored by astronauts at the International Space Station, according to Phys.org.

Reactor number four at the hernernobil nuclear plant is seen in this file photo of December 2, 1986, after work was completed to insert it into the concrete after the explosion at the plant.

Reactor number four at the hernernobil nuclear plant is seen in this file photo of December 2, 1986, after work was completed to insert it into the concrete after the explosion at the plant.
(Reuters)

“The growth of Cladosporium sphaerospermum and its ability to attenuate ionizing radiation was studied at the International Space Station (ISS) for a period of 30 days, as a living analogue on the surface of Mars,” the researchers explained in an abstract published in bioRxiv. .

The study found that fungi can grow in space.

“By designing a delicate but simple experimental composition, applied as a small single load, it can be shown that C. sphaerospermum melaninized fungi can be cultured in LEO [Low Earth Orbit], subject to the unique microgravity and radiation environment of the ISS, “the researchers wrote. “.

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Other innovative research related to hernobil disaster is underway.

Earlier this year, for example, researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK announced the development of materials they say could be used to help dismantle the Chernobyl nuclear reactor sites and the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. The materials, developed with scientists in Ukraine, could simulate Materials containing Lava-shaped fuels (LFCMs) that are thwarting demolition efforts at nuclear disaster sites, researchers say.

“LFCMs are a mixture of highly radioactive molten nuclear fuel and building materials that join together during a nuclear fusion,” the researchers explained in a statement. However, very few samples of hazardous material are available to study, so the simulated material could help scientists plan future decay efforts at nuclear sites.

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The research is published in the journal Nature Degradation.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers




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