Researchers around the UK are working with colleagues from the US, Italy and the Netherlands on Project Persephone, investigating new bio-technologies that could one day help to create a self-sustaining spacecraft to carry people beyond our solar system.
The spaceship would incorporate into its structure organic matter such as algae and artificial soil, using the Sun's energy to produce biofuel and a sustainable source of food, 'The Times' reported.
It would need to keep a few thousand people alive for generations on a one-way mission to find a new world to inhabit, researchers said.
According to the project website, scientists are "considering the application of living technologies such as protocells, programmable smart chemistry, in the context of habitable starship architecture that can respond and evolve according to the needs of its inhabitants."
Rachel Armstrong, a senior architecture and design lecturer at the University of Greenwich, is leading the project, which includes 13 designers, six of whom are based in the UK.
Armstrong's research focuses on bio-engineering, developing artificial soil and droplets of water that can be programmed to carry key elements.
"If the Earth ends up a no-go zone for human beings due to climate change or nuclear or biological warfare, we have to preserve human civilisation. We need nature to survive, so how do we take nature with us" said Steve Fuller, the team's sociologist, based at the University of Warwick.
Researchers hope the project's principal use will be to teach us more about building sustainable cities on Earth. PTI RCL AKJ RCL 04281515