Research

Astronauts will use algae as food and source of oxygen

During long space missions to membersspacecraft crews will have to grow their own food, because the delivery from Earth will be impossible. At the same time, it will be important for them to diversify the diet, since it is unlikely anyone will want to eat one potato like the character of Matt Damon from the movie “Martian”. Researchers from the International Space Station began an experiment in which they will find out whether they can grow, feed and get oxygen from algae. It seems quite possible.

For growing algae they will usephotobioreactor, which was delivered to the station on May 6 inside the cargo spacecraft SpaceX Dragon. It is believed that with the help of it, the astronauts will receive not only nutritious biomass, which can make up 30% of the diet of future space missions, but also an additional source of pure oxygen. For these purposes, by the way, the algae Chlorella vulgaris, which will be grown inside a biological reactor, are excellent.

It is assumed that the device will workin conjunction with the physico-chemical air recycling system and ACLS technology for the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen. Basically, oxygen on the ISS is produced by electrolysis of water delivered by cargo ships - the resulting hydrogen is subsequently dumped into space. Thanks to algae and other oxygen generation technologies, agencies will be able to deliver less water to 400 liters, or use this volume for other purposes.

If the experiment is successful and the devicewill prove its effectiveness, the technology will be widely used in manned explorations of the Moon and the colonization of Mars. During these missions, the delivery of products from the Earth will be impossible, and not only in a large distance, but also in an increased volume of cargo. That is why researchers are so actively engaged in the creation of a closed life support system, where the delivery of food and water is simply not needed.

It is noteworthy that in the cargo ship SpaceXDragon also delivered materials to slow down oxidative processes in astronaut cells. It is believed that someday they will form the basis of drugs that eliminate the effects of a long stay in conditions of weightlessness. More information about this can be found in our material.

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