NAME: William Kelly Jr.
PROJECT TITLE: Growth of Chlorella for Biological Life Support System
View William's webpage here:
Long-duration future habitation of space will require a controlled ecological life support system (CELSS) to simultaneously revitalize atmosphere (liberate oxygen and fix carbon dioxide), purify water (via transpiration), and generate food. Studies of bioregenerative life support systems for use in space indicated that they are scientifically feasible. Photosynthetic organisms, such as plants or green algae, constitute major components of biological life support, producing food, oxygen, and potable water, and removing carbon dioxide exhaled by the crew.
We are evaluating the feasibility of an adaptable bioreactor system for measuring the microgravity response of algal cells to space conditions and optimizing photosynthetic performance under those conditions. The proposed project will advance human exploration of space in the near and mid-term future on the International Space Station and in the far-term for longer duration missions and eventual space habitation. In anticipation of extended-duration, manned missions to Mars, NASA has developed a research program in its Life Sciences Division to explore the feasibility of using bioregenerative cycling in combination with physicochemical recycling of certain life-support ingredients. The goal of this NASA program is to develop a controlled ecological life support system (CELSS) that ultimately would operate totally independently of resupply from Earth.
Growth of Chlorella in a microgravity bioreactor proposed here will support investigations into the role of gravity on three-dimensional, high-fidelity plant tissue growth for production of biomass and high value protein. This integrated three-dimensional plant tissue model and bioreactor technology platform will have wide applicability both on the ground and in space to further NASA goals on understanding gravity limitations on biotechnology processes and understanding the effect of environmental stressors on biological systems.