13 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.
With the “Microalgal Life Support Units for Space Missions” project, one of these experiments, it is aimed to develop a life support system to perform growth and endurance tests under non-gravity conditions, examine their metabolic changes, and determine their carbon dioxide capture performance and oxygen production capabilities of microalgae species that are adapted to harsh conditions on Earth.
While 8 scientists from TÜBİTAK Marmara Research Center (TÜBİTAK MAM) and Istanbul Medeniyet University are involved in the project, which is led by Boğaziçi University Environmental Sciences Institute Doctor Lecturer Berat Haznedaroğlu, TÜBİTAK Space Institute also provides support for the preparation of the experimental setup.
While determining 5 different types of microalgae to be sent to space within the scope of the experiment, Haznedaroğlu and his team informed Turkey’s first space travelers Alper Gezeravcı and Tuva Cihangir Atasever about the project.
“We will conduct molecular analyzes of the metabolic changes of microalgae in a gravity-free environment”
Haznedaroğlu stated that they will take the microalgae photosynthesis unit they designed to the space station during their 14-day mission by Turkey’s first space travelers.
Haznedaroğlu said, “We will enrich the carbon dioxide of the space station and give it to the microalgae photosynthetic unit. In this unit, we have specially selected, adapted to harsh living conditions, including the species that we isolated from Antarctica in the 4th National Antarctic Science Expedition in partnership with Medeniyet University. “We will examine the performance of microalgae species to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen for 14 days through sensors. At the same time, we will conduct molecular analyzes of the metabolic changes of microalgae in a gravity-free environment.”
Stating that their goal is to identify the most successful microalgae species within the framework of this short space mission, and to develop these species for technological applications in future space missions to meet the needs of different crew and passengers, Haznedaroğlu said that an experimental cube of 20 cubic centimeters will be sent to orbit and that the interior design of the experiment, electronic parts will be sent to orbit. He explained that they have moved on to the preparation of algae and preparation for biological analysis.
Stating that the practical and theoretical training process for both space passengers has been completed, and that they have carried out the simulation of the experiment they will carry out in space in a laboratory environment, Haznedaroğlu noted that they are currently in the assembly phase of the set and that the safety tests will begin in a short time.
Haznedaroğlu underlined that safety tests are necessary to prevent the samples from being damaged during the expedition, and that once this is completed, the experiment will be ready to be launched.
“Samples will be frozen in space”
Referring to the use of different systems in space stations, Haznedaroğlu informed that carbon dioxide is converted into oxygen with different systems for air renewal:
“It takes a long time to transmit cargo from the world in case of a setback in long missions such as the Moon and Mars mission and when the need arises. We are talking about a 6-month period for Mars. In this case, fresh oxygen, food, treatment of waste water, nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater that can meet the needs. We are trying to create a biogenerative system, such as the recovery of pollutants to be used as fertilizer for other plants to be grown in the space station or feed for animals, the recovery of precious metals, and the acquisition of energy. In our first mission, we will determine their performance in a short time. Our goal is to meet the different needs of the species that are successful in the long term. to be ready to give.”
Expressing that at the end of the space mission, the samples will be taken into a solution called “RNA preservative”, that this will freeze the metabolic state of the microalgae in the space station and that they will come to the USA first and then to Turkey with the cold chain. “We will compare the changes in the world with the results of the experiments we carried out simultaneously. We will use our species with good performance in our next missions for different biotechnological applications,” he said.
Emphasizing that algae have a very important place in the formation of the atmosphere, Haznedaroğlu concluded his words as follows:
“Algae played a very important role in increasing the oxygen rate in the world’s atmosphere from 5 percent to 21 percent. Algae, which increase the oxygen level, can also increase biological diversity by supporting the formation of a livable atmosphere. Therefore, the role of algae in space studies is very important. Turkey Space We are proud to bring these studies to Turkey within the framework of the Science Mission of the Agency.”