Research

Mold can withstand doses of radiation that kill a person

From the very beginning of the space stations, on theirmicroorganisms, including mold fungi, began to be found on the inner surfaces. For example, at the Mir station, large amounts of mold spores of the genus Penicillus were found, which, under terrestrial conditions, are usually formed on food. It is believed that some of them may cause corrosion of aluminum alloys, but it is not known yet how dangerous they are in space. Nevertheless, they pose a danger to equipment that can be used in the colonization of Mars - researchers from the German Aviation Center have shown that they survive even at extreme levels of radiation.

The discovery was made during the experiment wherea group of scientists led by Marta Cortezo placed the spores of fungi in conditions close to the conditions of outer space. They were subjected to x-ray and ultraviolet radiation and watched their growth proceed. It turned out that the mold is able to survive even after absorbing 500 grays of radiation, which is hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose of radiation for humans. In the case of ultraviolet radiation, the spores sustained a capacity of 3,000 Joules per square meter.

What is dangerous mold?

According to Martha Cortezo, resistant to radiationmold can interfere with long-term space missions. For example, as mentioned above, it can contribute to the formation of corrosion, and disable equipment. Based on this, space agency employees will have to at least thoroughly clean the inner and outer parts of the ship, given the high vitality of the mold.

Penicillus spores

In addition to problems with equipment, some types ofmolds can affect the health of the astronauts themselves. For example, spores of the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus and Rhodotorula mucilaginosa, which can cause infectious diseases in people with a weakened immune system, have already been found on the International Space Station. In addition to fearlessness before radiation, fungi are also not afraid of chemicals and high temperatures.

At the moment, scientists have no effective means of combating resistant molds, but they are probably already developing them.

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