The experiments planned to be carried out in Turkey’s first manned space mission to be carried out in the 100th anniversary of the Republic by the Turkish Space Agency (TUA) and TUBITAK Space Technologies Research Institute have been determined.

Özçimen’s “A Comparative Study of Antarctic and Temperate Microalgae Cultivation in Space Conditions” titled “ALGALSPACE” was among these experiments.

The details of the project were given by YTU Chemistry-Metallurgy Faculty Bioengineering Department lecturer Prof. Dr. Didem Balkanlı Özçimen stated that they started their polar studies, which are their starting points, in 2019, and that microalgae isolated from the samples brought from Antarctica for the first time were entered into the gene banks with the National Antarctic Science Expedition.

Özçimen said, “The name of our country and our university has been announced to the world of science on polar microalgae. Our work in this area has been continuing since 2019. Finally, I participated in the National Antarctic Science Expedition with the possibilities of our country, within the scope of the international cooperation project with Chile in 2023. All In these processes, our horizons have expanded even more in the light of every new knowledge and experience.”

Noting that the conditions closest to the space conditions on Earth are found on the Antarctic continent, Özçimen explained that they have been working on the behavior of microalgae in the poles, which is a challenging microenvironment, for many years, and that the project in question came about with the thought of examining their behavior in harsh space conditions and in a non-gravity environment.

“Potential to contribute to the space mission”

Pointing out that microalgae are used and widespread in many important areas such as food, medicine, cosmetics and energy, Özçimen said:

“Microalgae is a unique product for the space mission that our country will carry out. Because microalgae, which are easy to grow and rich in nutrient content, can be used as food for space travelers, as well as increase the oxygen content in the air, improve air quality, and contribute to the space mission in many areas such as waste treatment. “

Expressing that they aim to contribute to space studies by collecting preliminary data for the space mission with his team, Özçimen continued as follows:

“Within the scope of our ALGALSPACE project, for the first time in the world literature, a study is carried out on the use of microalgae resistant to extreme conditions isolated by us from samples brought from Antarctica with the National Antarctic Science Expedition in space. The growth of Antarctic and temperate region microalgae in space will be examined and how they react during their growth will be observed. and growth data will be compared.”

Microalgae brought from Antarctica to be used in space studies

“Microalgae to be observed in space conditions”

Özçimen, who gave information about the stages of their work for the space mission, said:

“Microalgae will be grown in different systems and exposed to space conditions, and the differences that occur during this process will be observed and recorded. After the completion of the space mission, analyzes will be carried out on the microalgae samples brought from space by our team in the infrastructure of the YTU ‘Algal Biotechnology and Bioprocess Laboratory’. With this study, in the Antarctic region of Turkey. “The microalgae collected and isolated from the air station will be tested in space for the first time. The study will be a first not only for Turkey but also for the whole world.”

Özçimen stated that the data to be obtained at the end of the study will contribute to both the literature and the technologies to be developed in future space missions, and will be an inspiration to young researchers who will work on not only physical sciences but also life sciences.

Noting that in previous space missions, there were studies with different microalgae grown in temperate conditions, and that polar microalgae will be used for the first time in an experiment in space in his own work, Özçimen said, “The project is also a first in terms of comparing the production of polar microalgae in space with different methods and the analyzes to be carried out in the world with temperate region microalgae. It is of great importance for our country to use Antarctic microalgae in space science mission work and to carry out polar studies, which is one of the strategic areas for our country.”

prof. Dr. Didem Balkanlı Özçimen concluded her words as follows:

“The data to be obtained in this study is very valuable, and it will be important for the use of microalgae in long-term space missions in the future, especially in many areas such as food, energy, environment and health. I am happy to be a part of scientific studies in the space journey that our country will make with the first astronaut. And it is very nice and valuable to work and produce for our country.”

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