Ghent scientists work on ESA project

A team of researchers from Ghent University’s centre of excellence Food2Know is to collaborate with the European Space Agency ESA in its MELiSSA-project. The most important aim of the MELiSSA-project is to produce food, water and oxygen from carbon dioxide and waste during long manned space missions.

If no breakthrough were to be made in this field, around 30 tonnes of supplies would be required for a manned mission to Mars.

The Ghent University researchers will work on the whole recycling project from the extra-safe recycling of foodstuffs from waste to the complex task of using the recycled foodstuffs to grow food in space.
On earth plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen to create fresh air.

Plants also purify water they extract from the ground and vaporise it in the air. These unique characteristics mean that plants are the idea partners for people in space, where they could be grown in special grow rooms.

Gaining detailed knowledge of plant behaviour and how the aforementioned processes would work in space form the greatest challenges for the research team.

As well as being invaluable for any future Mars mission, the results could well help us here on Earth.