Man to Mars: A perfect example of circular economy
Wednesday 01 March 2017
to 16:00 at
Christophe Lasseur (ESA)
Pace is a very hostile environment for man, and so far all the metabolic needs have to be transported from Earth. When considering very long term presence in space these masses represent an enormous mass not compatible with the performance of current launchers. In Europe, the MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project was initiated in 1989, as a tool to gain understanding of closed life support, as well as the development of the technology for a future life support system.
The driving element of MELiSSA is the production of food, water and oxygen from organic waste (inedible biomass, CO2, urea etc.). Inspired by the principle of an ”aquatic” ecosystem, MELiSSA comprises several processes, called compartments, from the anoxygenic fermenter up to the photosynthetic one (i.e. algae and higher plants). The choise of this compartmentalised structure is required by the very high level of safety requirements and justified by the need of an engineering approach and to build deterministic control strategy.
During the past 27 years of research and development, a very progressive approach has been developed to understand, simulate, test and control the MELiSSA loop. This approach starts from the selection of processes, their characterisation and mathematical modelling, the validation of the control strategy, up to the demonstration on Earth, at pilot scale and leads to preliminary flight experiments.
This presentation recalls the main features of the project and summarises the recent achievements.