NASA Ames researcher Lynn Rothschild believes that sending fungus and hollow plastic shells as molds would have significant advantages over transporting heavy building materials from Earth to Mars. Enzymes secreted by mycelium could also be used to produce bioplastics and latex.
“Of all the projects I’ve done, this is the one that has the clearest path to getting up and going,” Rothschild tells the Mountain View Voice. “I really don’t think this is beyond our technological capabilities.”
Rothchild’s work was inspired by architect Chris Maurer, who has already experimented with how fire-resistant, mycelium-based “plywood” can be used in walls. His aim is to build sustainable shelters for refugees in resource-strapped regions such as Africa.
“What I love about these biomaterials is we can use it in a minimal resource environment,” Maurer says. “Mycelium might look light and fluffy, but it can grow at an explosive rate and even go through rock or asphalt.”