Lift-off for lichen: Simple moss-like growth could be the solution to space travel woes by creating rocket fuel on Mars
- Lichens contain fungi and algae or bacteria and they can produce hydrogen gas
- Hydrogen is used as a key ingredient in a number of different types of rocket fuel
- The durability of lichen could make it ideal for refilling rocket fuel in space
- After being subjected to Mars-like conditions the lichen rebounded back to full health when put back in an optimum environment
The key to long-term space travel may lie inside lichens, one of Earth’s most primitive forms of life.
Lichens produce hydrogen and this could allow for the refilling of fuel tanks on intergalactic trips.
A lichen contains fungi and algae or bacteria and the partnership produces hydrogen via a unique form of photosynthesis.
Hydrogen is a key component in rocket fuel and scientists have found that lichens may be able to survive on the surface of Mars and other alien planets.
Scientists believe that these simple, moss-like growths could be taken on space journeys of the future to produce hydrogen while travelling to refill fuel reserves.
Scroll down for video
Lichens contain fungi and algae or bacteria and they produce hydrogen via a unique form of photosynthesis. Hydrogen is a key component in rocket fuel and scientists have found lichens may be able to survive on the surface of Mars (stock)
HOW DOES A LICHEN PRODUCE HYDROGEN?
Photosynthesis in cyanobacteria and green algae splits water into hydrogen ions and electrons.
A series of enzymes are used to combine the ions and electrons to create hydrogen gas.
These enzymes are deactivated by the presence of oxygen and therefore are considered to be anaerobic.
It is the partnership – known as a symbiosis – between the various microorganisms that makes them incredibly durable.
Algae, and therefore some lichens, can produce hydrogen by splitting water into hydrogen ions and electrons before using a series of enzymes to combine them into hydrogen gas.
Kiriakos Kotzabasis at the University of Crete subjected lichen to harsh conditions to assess their durability.
The research simulated the conditions on Mars, with low oxygen, no water and temperatures as low as -196°C (-321°F).
Lichens managed to survive the unfathomably harsh environment and rebound back to full health after such brutal conditions.
Private spaceflight company Rocket Lab successfully…
China gives the world a glimpse of its military firepower as…
US astronaut set to blast off on first Soyuz launch since…
Christian women in Ireland don’t believe in limbo – the…
Share this article
Research simulated the conditions on Mars, with low oxygen, no water and temperatures as low as -196°C (-321°F). Lichens managed to survive the unfathomably harsh environment and rebound back to full health after such brutal conditions (stock)
When back in ambient conditions the basic creature was able to resume the normal production of hydrogen.
‘Despite their exposure to an unfavourable environment or to repeated extreme conditions, lichens remain alive,’ Dr Kotzabasis told New Scientist.
Hydrogen is a key component in many forms of rocket fuel and the constant production from the durable lichen could help refuel spacecrafts of the future, the researchers say.
Lichens survived Earth’s most adverse conditions and the next test if their mettle is to subject them to the harsh environment exclusive to space, such as high radiation levels.
The research was published in the journal Astrobiology.
Source: Read Full Article
Raphael Mechoulam, ‘Father of Cannabis Research,’ Dies at 92
NASA spots first planet with an atmosphere of swirling hot sand clouds
How to use ChatGPT in the real world and join the AI revolution
Babies’ bottle sucking style could predict future obesity risk
US politicians ‘shown secret videos of UFOs flying close to craft’, expert says
Antarctic ice sheet shed more than 3,000 billion tonnes in 25 years
Think you can spot a repeating pattern in this image? You're WRONG!
How Beethoven drank himself to DEATH