Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture

Could we just grow our own habitats when we get to other worlds? It's a lot of extra energy to bring fully formed buildings all the way out of Earth's gravity well.


(Graphic depiction of Myco-architecture off planet Credits: L. Rothschild)

A turtle carries its own habitat. While it is reliable, it costs energy. NASA makes the same trade-off when it transports habitats and other structures needed to lunar and planetary surfaces increasing upmass, and affecting other mission goals.

Imagine a self-pitching habitat made of a light, fibrous material, with excellent mechanical properties. The material could be used dry, wet, frozen with water or as part of a self-produced composite which could allow such enhancements as radiation protection and a vapor seal. It is self-replicating so the habitat could be extended at a future date, and self-repairing.

(Via NASA Ames Research Center.)

This is a pretty cool idea, so good that I'm sure I've read it before. In his 1968 novel A Gift From Earth, sf author Larry Niven describes building structures in a similar way:

It was a great sprawling bungalow, laid out in a rough cross, with the bulging walls typical of architectural coral...

Architectural coral was another gift of the ramrobots. A genetic manipulation of ordinary sea coral, it was the cheapest building material known. The only real cost was in the plastic balloon that guided the growth of the coral and enclosed the coral's special air-borne food.
(Read more about architectural coral)

Greg Bear is more ambitious in his 2015 novel Killing Titan; disdaining static structures built of local materials, he envisages entire vehicles built on new worlds:

"These are your rudimentary seed packages," Bueller says. "Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes. Others will take more time and grow out to full size by themselves, mostly the vehicles supporting big weapons - zap guns, ionics, penetrators. Once placed in their cradles beside the station, all the seeds will dip from the station storage tanks, and they'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere..."
(Read more about vehicle seeds)

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