Humanity is going to travel far into space sooner or later, and while we’re still trying to figure out exactly how far we can go and when we’re going to start the journey, making sure that our electronics are in working condition throughout the trip is very important. Of course, astronauts could very well bring spare metal with them into space and use it to fix any broken equipment, but that would dramatically increase launching costs, and so a better solution has to be implemented. Fortunately, a team of scientists from California’s Ames Research Center is currently working on creating microbes that could break down certain metallic parts from electronics and create brand new ones.
Sources indicate that the project has received a $100,000 grant from NASA’s Phase I of the Innovative Advanced Concepts, which supports pioneering technologies. The microbes in question would be designed to break down metals by their elements, and then they would serve as bio-ink for a special machine that could use the Martian atmosphere to print new chips. With the money that they have received so far, researchers also want to create microbes that could break down silicon, and they are also looking into how much infrastructure they would actually have to implement on a spaceship in order to make microbial recycling a reality. If everything goes according to plan, the project might receive a Phase II grant of $500,000, which would ensure another two years of development.