A Preparation for Bioregenerative Life Support Systems: The FEMME Experiment 2000-01-2381
Study of bio-regenerative life support system is a critical issue for long term manned spaceflight applications. An engineering approach of such systems, consists in experimental stoichiometry and growth kinetics determination and building up structured and predictive mathematical models, in order to test simplified biological processes. Up to now, the main results obtained by such an aproach are in good agreement with ground-based data.
Despite several scientific experiments performed in space, results on microbial kinetics study remains rare, and the real influence of space environment (micro-gravity, radiation, light spectrum, ..) on micro-organisms growth is still not quantified. Precursor space missions are therefore justified to expand current knowledge and check for the changes affecting such biological processes.
In the framework of ESA Bioregenerative Life Support Systems research program, the FEMME experiment (First Extraterrestrial Man Made Ecosystem) is proposed to study scientific and technical parameters within space environment. In this paper, a description of the preliminary concept will be given. FEMME is an autonomous experiment. It consists of photoautotrophic and heterotrophic species cultures in separated compartments within a gas closed system. It should provide data on microbial revitalisation and growth kinetics in space environment, i.e. how these parameters are affected by radiation and gravity. Furthermore, the use of direct sun light, thermal control and radiation shielding allows to study new technological concepts.