Microbes such as algae and bacteria are promising candidates for supporting extended human space travel, as they are robust sources of food, fuel, waste cycling, and oxygen production. Growing microbes on membranes reduces the mass and water demands of a bioreactor system, both of which are important considerations in space travel. The European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) on the International Space Station (ISS) provides an ideal opportunity to test the effects of microgravity and other aspects of the space environment on algal growth on membranes. This project aims to find optimal growing conditions and measurement technologies that conform to the capabilities of the EMCS. Growth was analyzed through simple RGB image analysis (both increases in area, and changes in color), that could be replicated not only on the EMCS camera system, but ground control experiments conducted in classrooms. This research is important for further refining our knowledge of algae performance in space and bringing space exploration research to the public via the classroom.


Other Microbiology | Science and Mathematics Education


Brad M. Bebout

Lab site

NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013 and Grant No. 0934931. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/304


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