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Technical Paper

Rapid Microbial Analysis during Simulated Surface EVA at Meteor Crater: Implications for Human Exploration of the Moon and Mars

Procedures for rapid microbiological analysis were performed during simulated surface extra-vehicular activity (EVA) at Meteor Crater, Arizona. The fully suited operator swabbed rock (‘unknown’ sample), spacesuit glove (contamination control) and air (negative control). Each swab sample was analyzed for lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and β-1, 3-glucan within 10 minutes by the handheld LOCAD PTS instrument, scheduled for flight to ISS on space shuttle STS-116. This simulated a rapid and preliminary ‘life detection’ test (with contamination control) that a human could perform on Mars. Eight techniques were also evaluated for their ability to clean and remove LPS and β-1, 3-glucan from five surface materials of the EVA Mobility Unit (EMU). While chemical/mechanical techniques were effective at cleaning smooth surfaces (e.g. RTV silicon), they were less so with porous fabrics (e.g. TMG gauntlet).
Technical Paper

Microgravity Plant Nutrient Experiment Middeck Payload

A Kennedy Space Center team is developing the Microgravity Plant Nutrient Experiment (MPNE) middeck payload to support plant growth in microgravity for the United States Space Program. The fluid system in this payload employs porous plant tubes that deliver nutrient solution actively to the plant roots and replaces the need for soil to grow plants. The component controlling nutrient solution delivery to the plant tubes is the Water Availability Sensor (WAS). This sensor measures the thin film of plant nutrient solution or potable water on plant tubes in the MPNE payload and provides the feedback logic for nutrient delivery to plants. The WAS provides a noninvasive measurement of nutrient delivery for this unique hydroponic system. Nutrient solution is added to the fluid system network as nutrients are consumed by the plants.
Technical Paper

General Purpose Free Floating Platform for KC-135 Flight Experimentation

The Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) program is evaluating higher plants as a means of providing life support functions aboard space craft. These plant systems will be capable of regenerating air and water while meeting some of the food requirements of the crew. In order to grow plants in space, a series of systems are required to provide the necessary plant support functions. Some of the systems required for CELSS experiments are such that it is likely that existing technologies will require refinement, or novel technologies will need to be developed. To evaluate and test these technologies, a series of KC-135 precursor flights are being proposed. A general purpose free floating experiment platform is being developed to allow the KC-135 flights to be used to their fullest. This paper will outline the basic design for the CELSS Free Floating Test Bed (FFTB), and the requirements for the individual subsystems.
Technical Paper

Condensate Recycling in Closed Plant Growth Chambers

Water used in the Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) Breadboard Project at the Kennedy Space Center is being recycled. Condensation is collected in the air ducts, filtered and deionized, and resupplied to the system for nutrient solutions, supplemental humidification, solvents and diluents. While the system functions well from a process control standpoint, precise and accurate tracking of water movement through the system to answer plant physiological questions is not consistent. Possible causes include hardware errors, undetected vapor loss from chamber leakage, and unmeasured changes in water volume in the plant growth trays.
Technical Paper

Comparison Studies of Candidate Nutrient Delivery Systems for Plant Cultivation in Space

A reliable nutrient delivery system is essential for long-term cultivation of plants in space. At the Kennedy Space Center, a series of ground-based tests are being conducted to compare candidate plant nutrient delivery systems for space. To date, our major focus has concentrated on the Porous Tube Plant Nutrient Delivery System, the ASTROCULTURE™ System, and a zeoponic plant growth substrate. The merits of each system are based upon the performance of wheat supported over complete growth cycles. To varying degrees, each system supported wheat biomass production and showed distinct patterns for plant nutrient uptake and water use.
Technical Paper

A More Completely Defined CELSS

A CELSS has been defined based on current or near-term technology. The CELSS was sized to support the metabolic load of four people on the Moon for ten years. A metabolic load of 14 MJ/person/day is assumed, including an average of 2.6 hr of EVA/person/day. Close to 100% closure of water, and oxygen, and 85% closure of the food loop is assumed. With 15% of the calories supplied from Earth, this should provide adequate dietary variety for the crew along with vitamin and mineral requirements. Other supply and waste removal requirements are addressed. The basic shell used is a Space Station Freedom 7.3 m (24 ft) module. This is assumed to be buried in regolith to provide protection from radiation, meteoroids, and thermal extremes. A solar dynamic power system is assumed, with a design life of 10 years delivering power at 368 kWh/kg. Initial estimates of size are that 73 m2 of plant growth area are required, giving a plant growth volume of about 73 m3.