In 1987, a mysterious box was delivered to a hotel in Beijing, China. The box contained blue-green algae. Those algae would end up spending five days in a capsule in space. The ESA’s MELiSSA project was born.
Twenty-five years later, the algae survived their trip around the world, according to European Space Agency (ESA), and a closed ecosystem is about to be explored – an ecosystem that supports life without drawing from external energy sources and without creating waste.
Bonuses of MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project include low-energy water purification, better wine and new astronaut food, according to ESA. ESA hopes future of the project will include ways of producing water, food and oxygen for long manned space missions.
“MELiSSA is a good example of how we do things right,” said Franco Ongaro, ESA’s Director of Technical and Quality Management.
Even though astronauts will have to wait for the benefits of MELiSSA, more than 1.8 million cubic metres of water are treated daily in Europe, the sparkling wine industry has gotten a lift due to biomass sensors and bacteria that astronauts can grow in space for food – spirulina – is helping many Earth-bound citizens lower their cholesterol.
“We are busy right now preparing experiments for ESA missions to the International Space Station,” said Christophe Lasseur, ESA’s project manager.
“We are looking into the future,” Lasseur said. “Let’s give MELiSSA another 25 years.
Photo: A box of blue-green algae started it all – the MELiSSA project. (Photo : Creative Commons)
View original article at: Mysterious Algae Delivered to a Hotel In Beijing, Now a Backbone of Space Advances