Micro-organisms in Space

A look at a self-supporting eco-system intended for space travel Inside Science is a secondary science series following the success of Scientific Eye and Science in Focus.

Inside Science investigates ‘MELISSA’ – an artificial eco-system intended for space travel which depends on micro-organisms, and chats with astronauts in orbit about the role of micro-organisms in space travel.

The programme visits labs in Belgium and Barcelona for an update on the MELISSA project experiments. MELISSA is an acronym for Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative. For the past 20 years it has been developing an artificial ‘closed loop’ eco-system in which micro-organisms are used to break down human waste, produce nutrients for plants, absorb CO2, produce oxygen, and grow edible algae. Scientists explain the types and functions of various micro-organisms in the experiment, the unknowns of microbial evolution, the risks of mutation, and the need to do further space-based testing.

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