Evaluation of Radiotrophic Fungi as a Potential Radiation Barrier (Evaluation of Radiotrophic Fungi as a Potential Radiation Barrier) - 01.16.19

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Evaluation of Radiotrophic Fungi as a Potential Radiation Barrier investigates using a radiotrophic fungus as a barrier to damaging radiation in space. These fungi are theoretically able to perform radiosynthesis, producing some of their energy from radiation. Observing the rate of growth and life cycle of the fungus in space may provide insight into its radiotrophic mechanisms and the feasibility of using it as a radiation barrier.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Michelle Lucas, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Michelle Lucas, Higher Orbits, Leesburg, VA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Information Pending

Developer(s)
Space Tango, Inc., Lexington, KY, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2018 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned
57/58

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Radiotrophic fungi are unique species of eukaryotes theoretically able to perform radiosynthesis, or energy production by means of harnessing radiation.
  • Evaluation of Radiotrophic Fungi as a Potential Radiation Barrier exposes fungi to the higher radiation levels of the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Images of growth and Geiger counter measurements are regularly captured for comparison to an identical Earth study.
  • Research data is used to explore the potential of using fungi such as these as radiation barriers.
  • The investigation aims to elucidate radiotrophism mechanisms.

Description

Evaluation of Radiotrophic Fungi as a Potential Radiation Barrier features a radiotrophic fungus Cladosporium Sphaerospermum that utilizes radiation energy as a partial source for sustaining growth. Radiotrophic fungi are unique species of eukaryotes theoretically able to perform radiosynthesis, or energy production by means of harnessing radiation. In this investigation, radiotropic fungi are exposed to the higher radiation levels of the International Space Station (ISS).
 
By placing a sample of this fungus on an agar plate and exposing it to the space environment, the rate of growth and life cycle may be observed, giving insight into the feasibility of using radiotrophic fungi as barriers to damaging radiation. Images of growth and Geiger counter measurements are regularly captured for comparison to an identical Earth study. Research data may be used to explore the potential of using fungi such as these as radiation barriers. Further, it is hoped that information related to the mechanisms of radiotrophism may be gained.

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Applications

Space Applications
Radiation in space poses significant health risks to astronauts, and effective methods for protecting them from this radiation are critical to ongoing space exploration. Should these fungi support their function as a protective barrier, they offer additional advantages such as small mass and reproducibility.

Earth Applications
Radiotrophic fungi have several potential uses on Earth, including as a potential disposal method for nuclear waste or use as high-altitude biofuel or a nutrition source.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
The science is contained inside of a 2U CubeLab in 4°C cold stow, with an orientation constraint, for ascent. The crew installs the CubeLab onto a payload card and then into the TangoLab, where autonomous operations occur. At the end of operations, the crew removes and stows the hardware for return to Earth. The investigation is returned to the Space Tango team upon return.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Higher Orbits
Space Tango

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Imagery