Friday, October 19, 2007

Self Sustaining Space Habitats A Possibility? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
(Hat Tip: Space Pragmatism and Engadget, Image credit: NASA)

If humanity is ever going to venture beyond lunar orbit, then they need to develop a way to survive off world indefinitely, or at least for long periods of time (as in years).

While no one has yet developed a biosphere that can survive without outside assistance, it looks as if James Chartres (an aerospace engineer from Australia) may have figured out how to create one that is "95 percent efficient."

(Cosmos Magazine) The Luna Gaia concept integrates technologies such as the Closed Equilibrated Biological Aquatic System (CEBAS), an enclosed aquarium designed by the German Aerospace Centre and the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELIiSSA) developed by the European Space Agency. MELIiSSA uses microbes to purify water, recycle carbon dioxide and derive edible material from waste products.

Algae – which generates oxygen from carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, and doesn't require pollinating – is the key to the proposed design.

The food required for astronauts would come from a mixture of tending small crops and from pre-packed supplies. Such crops would include peanuts, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and wheat. In addition, certain types of algae, such as Spirulina or Chlorella would provide other vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

If successful, this proposed biosphere could enable humanity to not only build large scale colonies on the Moon, but also actually settle the red planet itself (not to mention Ceres).

The idea is at least 20-30 years away from being realized upon another world, although if proven to actually work Chartres efforts may result in our species raising families upon other worlds.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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