Experiments at the International Space Station have shown that the “biomin” process will work in microgravity; a discovery that could help the first settlers of space gather the minerals they need to build a long-term presence beyond Earth.
The BioAsteroid experiment will take matchbox-sized containers carrying asteroid rocks, which will then be used to grow bacteria and fungi in an incubator to investigate how gravity affects the interaction between microbes and rock in reduced gravity. Scientists will investigate how microbes extract materials from space in rocks.
On land, microbes are sometimes used in mining as an ecological way to obtain metals. They digest rocks and what is left behind is the metals that miners need.
If successful, this method would make an effort to explore the Moon and Mars, allowing humans to extract building materials, water, or rocket fuel. Experimentation at the International Space Station (ISS) will allow scientists to conduct a unique study of the effects of microbes on asteroid material under conditions that cannot be repeated on Earth.
Libby Jackson, Director of Human Exploration Programs at the UK Space Agency, said: If we want to continue exploring space and push the boundaries of what is possible, then we need to make or find the essential elements needed to support life.
By being a member of the European Space Agency, UK scientists are taking the lead in their efforts to take advantage of the unique scientific facilities on the ISS and recreate the foundations of life on Earth.
The new Biorreactor Express program, which is part of this experiment, will change the way we use this unique laboratory, opening up new opportunities for scientists and organizations in the UK to work in the science space.
Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and Kayser Space, based in the Harwell space cluster in Oxfordshire, have collaborated on the project – a rapid European experiment through the Biorreactor Express program dedicated to biological, biotechnological and biochemical experiments. .
Professor Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh, said: We need to get useful materials to keep humans off the earth forever. This experiment advances our ability to do so. It will also provide new basic knowledge about the processes that are useful here on Earth, such as how biomes and microbes make up our pipes and the biofilms that pollute industrial facilities.
David Zolesi, General Manager of Kayser Space, added: BioAsteroids confirms how much added value there can be in commercial access to space and the ability to conduct biological experiments on Kayser’s ISS spacecraft. It was only possible to proceed with the launch of the ISS on a commercial basis within 18 months of the signing of the contract.
Scottish Government Minister Iain Stewart said: “Excellent scientists from the University of Edinburgh have worked on this monumental project led by the UK.
We are living in a very exciting time for the space industry. The UK Government’s continued investment in the space sector will strengthen the UK as a world leader in space.
Last week, the Rector pledged £ 14.6 billion to fund R&D in the Spending Review, which means investment in universities around Scotland around the world will continue to grow.
The experiment will take place on the SpX-21 ISS, a NASA-contracted and supply mission to the Commercial Service, using the SpaceX Cargo Dragon 2.
The UK Space Agency is funding the Bioreactor Express program with an annual contribution of £ 374 million to the European Space Agency (ESA). This membership allows the UK to collaborate with space agencies around the world on projects such as the International Space Station.
Early next year we will see the UK’s first significant industrial contribution to the ISS. The ColKa communication terminal, built by MDA UK, will be installed by astronauts on a spacewalk in January.
This terminal will significantly upgrade the communication capabilities of the Columbus module, where many science experiments take place in the UK, allowing experimental data to be “forwarded” to Earth.
United Kingdom Space Agency
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The “awareness” for the team’s success in space missions
London, Canada (SPX) 19 November 2020
NASA is working to send humans to Mars by 2030. If all is planned, it will take two and a half years for the flight crew to return to the red planet. It’s a long time to spend with colleagues, without interruption. Now, imagine if the astronauts don’t match each other? To help prevent this from happening, a new study led by Western University tested the dynamics of a group of five astronauts in 2018 at the Austrian Space Forum in Oman, a country, on an analogous Mars mission held in a country … read more