Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Science https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Chernobyl fungus can protect astronauts from radiation during deep space missions

Chernobyl fungus can protect astronauts from radiation during deep space missions



A type of fungus found at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident has been sent into space in a research project aimed at protecting astronauts from radiation during deep space missions.

“The biggest risk to humans in deep space missions is radiation,” the researchers said in a summary of an article uploaded to the bioRxiv prepress server for biology. The fungus, which thrives in Chernobyl, appears to perform “radiosynthesis” using melanin to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy.

The effects of radiation are of particular concern for long space flights to places such as Mars.

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Scientists at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Stanford University and the School of Science and Mathematics in North Carolina have created a research project that uses the fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum. The petri dish containing the sponge was observed by astronauts on the International Space Station, according to Phys.org.

Reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant can be seen in this photo from December 2, 1986, after the completion of the work on filling it with concrete after the explosion at the plant.

Reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant can be seen in this photo from December 2, 1986, after the completion of the work on filling it with concrete after the explosion at the plant.
(Reuters)

“The growth of Cladosporium sphaerospermum and its ability to reduce ionizing radiation has been studied aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for a period of 30 days as an analogue of inhabiting the surface of Mars,” the researchers said in a summary published in bioRxiv.

The study found that the fungus can be grown in space.

“By designing a fine but simple experimental setup realized as a small single payload, it can be shown that the melanized fungus C. sphaerospermum can be cultivated in LEO [Low Earth Orbit], while being subject to the unique environment for microgravity and radiation of the ISS “, the researchers write. “Growth characteristics also suggest that the fungus not only adapts but thrives and protects against cosmic radiation, according to similar research based on Earth.”

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Other innovative research related to the Chernobyl disaster is underway.

Earlier this year, for example, researchers at Britain’s University of Sheffield announced the development of materials they say could be used to decommission the Chernobyl nuclear reactor sites and Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. Materials developed by scientists in Ukraine could simulate lava-like fuels (LFCMs), which hamper decommissioning efforts at nuclear sites, researchers say.

“LFCMs are a mixture of highly radioactive molten nuclear fuel and building materials that fuse together during a nuclear failure,” the researchers said in a statement. However, very few samples of hazardous material are available for testing, so the simulated material can help scientists plan future decommissioning efforts at nuclear sites.

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The study was published in the journal Nature Materials Degradation.

Follow James Rodgers on Twitter @jamesjrogers




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