Melanin Sent to Space for Radiation Research?

If Melanin “has no special benefits” like some people like to say, then why is it continuously one of the top focuses of modern scientific research? Why would they want to use Melanin to protect spacecraft worth hundreds of millions of dollars if all it did was “make people’s skin different shades of brown”?

Photo Credit: John Hopkins University – Radamés J.B. Cordero (right) and his research collaborator Quigly Dragotakes hold samples of melanin derived from Cryptococcus neoformans similar to the materials that will be sent into space.

According to a report by John Hopkins University rockets loaded with “a composite of fungal melanin and polymers” were scheduled to deliver the Melanin to the International Space Station for further research on it’s protective abilities against radiation.

The report goes on to say: “When the massive Antares rocket lifts off from Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore on Saturday morning, it will carry with it a payload of tiny, fungus-grown biomaterials that Radamés J.B. Cordero has spent the past four years developing and studying intensely. The material, a composite of fungal melanin and polymers, will be delivered to the International Space Station in Earth’s low orbit, where it will be tested for its ability to protect against space radiation. The results of those tests could inspire new ideas about how to protect humans from harmful radiation on Earth and in outer space.

It’s ironic that while so many (ignorant) people love to degrade and downplay the magnificence of Melanin, top scientists around the world are diligently and desperately looking for ways to utilize this substance for a variety of campaigns, usually military or technology orientated.

While normally Melanin is about $400 a gram, Cordero has found a much more cost effective way to gain hold of this substance, that is to grow it.

John Hopkins University reports, “This is the first time melanin has been sent to space for testing, partly because the material is extremely expensive to produce, with a gram typically costing roughly $400. Cordero’s work centers on a form of melanin grown in the environmental fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, which researchers expect may provide a far more cost-effective “factory” for melanin and may even provide additional protective benefits.” They are essentially organically farming melanin.