Europe bets on cultivating oxygen with microalgae in space

[EU] The European Space Agency (ESA) announced today a novel experimental project to cultivate oxygen with microalgae in spacecraft and avoid the need to transport it from Earth.

According to a statement, researchers from the Artemiss pilot project will analyze how photosynthesis takes place in space. It is the process by which organisms convert light into energy, releasing oxygen as a byproduct.

At the research process, experts loaded the microphyte Arthrospira into a photo bioreactor to measure the amount of oxygen they produce during a month.

Arthrospira is best known for its derivative: Spirulina, famous for having been used successfully in NASA missions as a dietary supplement for astronauts.

The microalgae will be analyzed as soon as the Dragon freighter, where they were sent, returns to Earth, in April.

ESA anticipated that experts will look at genetic information to try to understand the effects of weightlessness and radiation on the cells of these plants.

 

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