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Could Chernobyl be the key to conquer Mars? Mold found in the Ukrainian nuclear power plant can EAT radiation

Humans could live on the planet Mars if a fungus released into the Chernobyl nuclear reactor is used to protect against radiation, scientists say.

A layer of the fungus about 21 inches thick could “ largely wipe out the annual dose equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars, ” researchers found.

“What makes the fungus great is that you only need a few grams to get started,” says Nils Averesch, Stanford researcher and co-author of the study. New scientist.

“It replicates itself and heals itself, so even if there is a solar flare that significantly damages the radiation shield, it can grow back in a few days.”

It has already been able to absorb harmful cosmic rays on the International Space Station and could potentially be used to protect future Mars colonies.

In 1991, five years after the disaster that turned Ukraine upside down, the black fungi were found to spray the walls of the abandoned reactor flooded with gamma.

A layer of the fungus about 21 inches thick could `` largely wipe out the annual dose equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars, '' researchers found.

A layer of the fungus about 21 inches thick could “ largely wipe out the annual dose equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars, ” researchers found.

Surprised at how it survived the extreme conditions, scientists examined the microorganism – and were even more excited about their findings.

Not only did it survive, but they discovered that the fungi actually grew towards the radiation, as if they were attracted to it.

This is due to the large amounts of melanin – the pigment that darkens the skin – and allows the fungi to normally absorb harmful rays which it then converts into chemical energy.

In addition to not being lost, they discovered that the fungi - called cryptococcus neoformans - actually grow towards the radiation, as if attracted to it

In addition to not being lost, they discovered that the fungi - called cryptococcus neoformans - actually grow towards the radiation, as if attracted to it

In addition to not being lost, they discovered that the fungi – called cryptococcus neoformans – actually grow towards the radiation, as if attracted to it

In the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, where in 1991 a black fungus was found that sprouted on the walls under extremely harsh conditions

In the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, where in 1991 a black fungus was found that sprouted on the walls under extremely harsh conditions

In the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, where in 1991 a black fungus was found that sprouted on the walls under extremely harsh conditions

In the same way that plants convert carbon dioxide and chlorophyll through photosynthesis into oxygen and glucose, the fungi stored deadly rays that allowed them to produce energy.

This process – acclaimed radio synthesis – has caught scientists’ attention for its potentially revolutionary implications.

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a research scientist at NASA who is leading the experiments on the Cryptococcus neoformans fungi, believes that by extracting its radiation absorbing power and producing it in medicine form, it can be used as a ‘sunscreen’ against toxic radiation.

It would allow cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy to allow nuclear power plants and airline pilots to operate without fear of receiving a lethal dose of radiation, Venkateswaran expects for the journal Scientific American.

The fungi’s radiation conversion capability can also be used to power electrical appliances, and is touted as a possible biological response to solar panels.

An anonymous researcher specializing in the field has also pointed to his future role in the development of biotechnology.

They explained in an online forum: ‘The fungi that grow there (Chernobyl reactor) are radiotrophic fungi, which are rich in melanin.

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a research scientist at NASA (right) and Professor Clay Wang of the University of Southern California (left) sent samples of the fungi to the International Space Station to see if they mutated further below the elevated radiation levels

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a research scientist at NASA (right) and Professor Clay Wang of the University of Southern California (left) sent samples of the fungi to the International Space Station to see if they mutated further below the elevated radiation levels

Kasthuri Venkateswaran, a research scientist at NASA (right) and Professor Clay Wang of the University of Southern California (left) sent samples of the fungi to the International Space Station to see if they mutated further below the elevated radiation levels

The fungus's radiation-converting ability can also be used to power electrical appliances, touting it as a possible biological response to solar panels

The fungus's radiation-converting ability can also be used to power electrical appliances, touting it as a possible biological response to solar panels

The fungus’s radiation-converting ability can also be used to power electrical appliances, touting it as a possible biological response to solar panels

‘Melanin absorbs radiation and converts it into other forms of energy (including electric).

‘My research focuses on the use of melanin in combination with water to convert electromagnetic radiation into electrical energy.

“This technology is likely to find its place in biotechnology because it is non-toxic and biocompatible.”

Progress in using the powers of the fungi for medicinal purposes has been gradual, but has been stimulated in recent years by an ongoing study that sent samples of it into space.

By growing it in the International Space Station, where the radiation level is increased compared to that on Earth, Venkateswaran and Professor Clay Wang of the University of Southern California were able to track the mutation.

When placed in a more stressful environment, microorganisms release different molecules, which could promote understanding of the fungi and how it can be used to develop radiation-blocking drugs for humans.

The results of the experiment have yet to be published, leaving the scientific community breathlessly awaiting findings that could change people’s protection against radiation.

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE 1986 NUCLEAR DISASTER IN CHERNOBYL?

On April 26, 1986, a power station on the outskirts of Pripyat suffered a major accident in which one of the reactors caught fire and exploded, spilling radioactive material into the surrounding area.

More than 160,000 residents of the city and surrounding areas had to be evacuated and unable to return, making the former Soviet site a radioactive ghost town.

Last year, scientists at NASA sent eight fungi from the Chernobyl exclusion zone (shown in red) into space where they were placed on board the International Space Station

Last year, scientists at NASA sent eight fungi from the Chernobyl exclusion zone (shown in red) into space where they were placed on board the International Space Station

A map of the Chernobyl exclusion zone is shown above. The ‘ghost town’ Pripyat is located near the site of the disaster

The exclusion zone, which covers a significant area in Ukraine and part of neighboring Belarus, will remain in effect for generations until radiation levels drop to safe levels.

The region is called a ‘dead zone’ because of the persistent radiation.

However, the area’s proliferation is contradictory, and many argue that the area should be turned over to the animals that have settled in the area – creating a radioactively protected wildlife sanctuary.

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