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Researchers Successfully Biomine Vanadium Aboard the Space Station
Preflight fluorescence microscopy image of biofilm of Spingomonas desiccabilis growing over and into the surface of a basalt slide as part of Biorock experiment. Organisms are stained with DNA binding dye, Sybr Gold. Growth can be seen into the rock cavities. (Credits: ESA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — For centuries, humans have mined materials to build the tools we use every day, from batteries and cell phones to airplanes and refrigerators. While the process of obtaining these important minerals used to rely entirely on heavy machinery, fire, and human labor, scientists have learned how to harness the natural power of microbes to do some of the work.

This process, called biomining, has become common as a cost efficient and environmentally friendly way to obtain the metals around us in nature. As humans plan expeditions deeper into space, biomining offers a way to obtain needed materials for use on other planetary bodies rather than transporting them from Earth.

  • Parabolic Arc
  • September 1, 2021