Slime mould analogue models of space exploration and planet colonisation

Andrew Adamatzky, Rachel Armstrong, Ben De Lacy Costello, Yong Deng, Jeff Jones, Richard Mayne, Theresa Schubert, Georgios Ch Sirakoulis, Xiaoge Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Slime mould Physarum polycephalum is a single cell that is visible by the unaided eye. When spanning sources of nutrients the slime mould builds a network of protoplasmic tubes which is sometimes considered to be optimal in terms of the minimization of metabolite transportation time and distance away from repellents. Previously we have shown that the slime mould is efficient in imitating the formation of man-made road networks in major countries, where major urban areas are sources of nutrients. We used a similar approach to grow slime mould on a three-dimensional template of the Moon to speculate on potential colonisation scenarios. The slime mould imitated the propagation of colonisation in an exploratory mode, i.e. without any definite targets. Additional transportation hubs/targets were added after the initial network was formed, to imitate the development of colonies in parallel with slime mould growth. We provide analyses of proximity graphs representing colonisation networks and support the findings with Physarum-inspired algorithms to inform supply chain design. We speculate on how living Physarum, or its incorporation into a polymer hybrid material, can be used as a wearable smart wetware based on laboratory experiments interacting with chemical components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-304
Number of pages15
JournalJBIS - Journal of the British Interplanetary Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioengineering
  • Slime mould
  • Unconventional computing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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