NASA believes ‘space algae’ could be vital in sending humans to Mars

For humans to thrive on Mars, NASA believes ‘space algae’ could play a major role as success to long-term manned mi
Published February 26, 2019

For humans to thrive on Mars, NASA believes ‘space algae’ could play a major role as success to long-term manned missions in deep space.

Space agency NASA believes that its ‘Space Algae Experiment’, which is algae grown in spacecraft, could be a primary key to success of long-term manned missions, like planned trips to Mars that could take at least three-year round trip.

For long distances till Mars, humans will need various essential elements such as food, waste removal, water, oxygen and radiation protection. Since everything cannot be carried, the crew would eventually have to grow it themselves and researchers believe algae could help solve this issue, as per

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Principal investigator Mark Settles said, “We wanted to figure out an inexpensive way to grow algae in liquid cultures is space. Algae grows fastest in liquids, but there are a series of challenges for handling liquids in microgravity.”

NASA tested if specific genetic variations meant algae survived better in space. For this, the team created mutations by subjecting the algae to UV light, then growing each different strain for 40 generations.

What’s more promising is that algae can be used as a food source, as many types are edible and can be used as a nutritional supplement. Also, algae can help protect astronauts from cosmic radiation and for producing oils which can be used for producing plastics or fuel in space. It can also provide waste removal as human waste can be used as a source food for algae, reported Wired.

“We wanted to figure out what genes are really important for algae to grow well on the Space Station. We are currently characterizing whether we got significantly different strains compared to doing the same experiment on Earth,” said Settles.

Researcher Emily Matula said, “My group believes that it could be possible to address almost all of the astronaut’s metabolic needs with one system of algae.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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