Growing Habitats and Furniture in Space Out of Mushrooms

Artist concept depicting a new novel aerospace concept for NIAC Phase III 2024. Credit: Lynn Rothschild

Over the years we have often seen astronauts gently and deftly moving structures into place with their bare hands. Thinks are easy to move in space but getting them there is slightly more tricky and costly. A new piece of research has explored the possibility of growing structures in space based on food substrates. NASA has now awarded a grant to a proposal to investigate further growing structures using fungal mycelial composites, that’s mushrooms to you and I.

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What’s the Most Effective Way to Explore our Nearest Stars?

Project Starshot, an initiative sponsored by the Breakthrough Foundation, is intended to be humanity's first interstellar voyage. Credit: breakthroughinitiatives.org

It was 1903 that the Wright brothers made the first successful self-propelled flight. Launching themselves to history, they set the foundations for transatlantic flights, supersonic flight and perhaps even the exploration of the Solar System. Now we are on the precipice of travel among the stars but among the many ideas and theories, what is the ultimate and most effective way to explore our nearest stellar neighbours? After all, there are 10,000 stars within a region of 110 light years from Earth so there are plenty to choose from. 

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What Could We Build With Lunar Regolith?

A close-up view of astronaut Buzz Aldrin's bootprint in the lunar soil, photographed with the 70mm lunar surface camera during Apollo 11's sojourn on the moon. There'll soon be more boots on the lunar ground, and the astronauts wearing those boots need a way to manage the Moon's low gravity and its health effects. Image by NASA

It has often been likened to talcum powder. The ultra fine lunar surface material known as the regolith is crushed volcanic rock. For visitors to the surface of the Moon it can be a health hazard, causing wear and tear on astronauts and their equipment, but it has potential. The fine material may be suitable for building roads, landing pads and shelters. Researchers are now working to analyse its suitability for a number of different applications.

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Exploring Lava Tubes on Other Worlds Will Need Rovers That Can Work Together

Artist's rendition of autonomous rovers using the breadcrumb style communication network within a lava tube. They are exploring and collecting data, which is then relayed back to the mother rover at the tube's entrance, which then relays the data to an orbiter or a blimp. (Credit: John Fowler/Wikimedia Commons, Mark Tarbell and Wolfgang Fink/University of Arizona)

Planetary exploration, specifically within our own Solar System, has provided a lifetime of scientific knowledge about the many worlds beyond Earth. However, this exploration, thus far, has primarily been limited to orbiters and landers/rovers designed for surface exploration of the celestial bodies they visit. But what if we could explore subsurface environments just as easily as we’ve been able to explore the surface, and could some of these subsurface dwellings not only shelter future astronauts, but host life, as well?

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Musk Suggests That Starship Will Probably Make an Orbital Flight in November

SpaceX Founder and CEO Elon Musk recently took to Twitter and hinted that the much-anticipated Starship—currently undergoing upgrades in preparation for its upcoming maiden flight—could launch as soon as November.

Responding to a question from a curious Twitter account asking about updates for Starship’s orbital flight date, Musk responded, “Late next month maybe, but November seems highly likely. We will have two boosters & ships ready for orbital flight by then, with full stack production at roughly one every two months.” As usual, his tweet garnered thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets.

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Space Diamonds are Even Harder Than Earth Diamonds

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers led by Monash University in Australia have verified the existence of a rare hexagonal structure of diamond called lonsdaleite, within ureilite meteorites from the inside of a dwarf planet that formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago.

Lonsdaleite is named after Dame Kathleen Lonsdale, a famous British pioneering crystallographer responsible for developing several X-ray methods for studying crystal structures, and was the first woman elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society in 1945. This study holds the potential for further unlocking the secrets of the formation of our solar system, and was conducted with collaboration from RMIT University, the Australian Synchrotron and Plymouth University, and CSIRO.

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Flying to (Hypothetical) Planet 9: Why visit it, how could we get there, and would it surprise us like Pluto?

In a recent study submitted to Earth and Planetary Astrophysics, an international team of researchers discuss the various mission design options for reaching a hypothetical Planet 9, also known as “Planet X”, which state-of-the-art models currently estimate to possess a semi-major axis of approximately 400 astronomical units (AU). The researchers postulate that sending a spacecraft to Planet 9 could pose scientific benefits much like when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft visited Pluto in 2015. But does Planet 9 actually exist?

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New Animation Shows how the Artemis Missions Will use the Lunar Gateway and a Starship to put Humans Back onto the Moon

A recent YouTube video made by YouTube account, Hazegrayart, combines awesome computer animation, great music, and crisp archived audio recordings to show how NASA’s future Lunar Gateway will function for the upcoming Artemis missions. The archived audio recordings encompass only about a third of the short four and a half minutes of video, with almost the entire length being filled with a very relaxing soundtrack as the viewer is left fixated watching a slow and methodical ballet of spaceships come together at Gateway.

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What is ISRU, and How Will it Help Human Space Exploration?

Artist's impression of astronauts on the lunar surface, as part of the Artemis Program. How will they store power on the Moon? 3D printed batteries could help. Credit: NASA
Artist's impression of astronauts on the lunar surface, as part of the Artemis Program. How will they store power on the Moon? 3D printed batteries could help. Credit: NASA

As Artemis 1 prepares for its maiden launch with the goal of putting astronauts back on the Moon’s surface within the next few years, the next question is how will astronauts live and survive its surface? Will we constantly ferry all the necessary supplies such as water and food from Earth, or could astronauts learn to survive on their own? These are questions that a discipline known as ISRU hopes to answer both now and in the years to come. But what is ISRU, and how will it help advance human space exploration as we begin to slowly venture farther away from the only home we’ve ever known?

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Rocket Lab is Sending its own Mission to Venus to Search for Life

In a recent study published in Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics, the private space company, Rocket Lab, outlines a plan to send their high-energy Photon spacecraft to Venus in May 2023 with the primary goal of searching for life within the Venusian atmosphere. The planet Venus has become a recent hot topic in the field of astrobiology, which makes the high-energy Photon mission that much more exciting.

Rocket Lab hopes to build off their recent successful launch of the CAPSTONE mission using its Photon satellite bus, and consists of a CubeSat designed to study the near rectilinear halo orbit (NRHO) around the Moon and its applications for long-term missions such as Gateway.

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