Fun guys on Mars: Mycelium eyed for astronaut houses

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In California, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California has received additional funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts to evaluate the potential for building astronaut housing from fungi tissue. 

Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist and synthetic biologist, tells space.com she got the idea from a student team who used mycelium to make a biodegradable drone. Her plan is to grow fungi, reinforced with other wastes like grass and coffee grounds, in molds to create structures for buildings and other infrastructure. The group’s first grant was used to look at the properties of different fungi and how they grow under different conditions. To date, Rothschild’s group has made bricks and a stool.  The second grant will be used to build more objects and expand simulations of different extraterrestrial conditions. 

“I just never thought that I’d be pitching mushrooms to NASA,” Rothschild adds.