The biological component of the life support system for a Martian expedition.


Ground-based experiments at RF SSC-IBMP RAS (State Science Center of Russian Federation--Institute of Biomedical Problems of Russian Academia of Science) were aimed at overall studies of a human-unicellular algae-mineralization LSS (life support system) model. The system was 15 m3 in volume. It contained 45 L of algal suspension with a dry substance density of 10-12 g per liter; water volume, including the algal suspension, was 59 L. More sophisticated model systems with partial substitution of unicellular algae with higher plates (crop area of 15 m2) were tested in three experiments from 1.5 to 2 months in duration. The experiments demonstrated that LSS employing the unicellular algae play not only a macrofunction (regeneration of atmosphere and water) but also carry some other functions (purification of atmosphere, formation of microbial cenosis etc.) providing an adequate human environment. It is also important that functional reliability of the algal regenerative subsystem is secured by a huge number of cells able, in the event of death of a part of population, to recover in the shortest possible time the size of population and, hence, functionality of the LSS autotrophic component. For a long period of time a Martian crew will be detached from Earth's biosphere and for this reason LSS of their vehicle must be highly reliable, robust and redundant. One of the approaches to LSS redundancy is installation of two systems with different but equally efficient regeneration technologies, i.e. physical-chemical and biological. At best, these two systems should operate in parallel sharing the function of regeneration of the human environment. In case of failure or a sharp deterioration in performance of one system the other will, by way of redundancy, increase its throughput to make up for the loss. This LSS design will enable simultaneous handling of a number of critical problems including adequate satisfaction of human environmental needs.

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@article{Sychev2003TheBC, title={The biological component of the life support system for a Martian expedition.}, author={Vladimir N. Sychev and M. A. Levinskikh and Ye Ya Shepelev}, journal={Advances in space research : the official journal of the Committee on Space Research}, year={2003}, volume={31 7}, pages={1693-8} }