From 8th to 9th of June 2016 about 140 scientists and engineers from a vast industrial and scientific community gathered for the MELiSSA Workshop at the University Campus in Lausanne to discuss and present the latest developments in the field of regenerative life-support and adjacent domains.
24 speakers and 19 poster presentations in only 1.5 days reflect the widespread interest in the diverse technological domains of projects such as MELiSSA. In his opening speech Franco Ongaro, ESA/TEC-directorate director, emphasized the importance of regenerative life-support not only for future human (deep) space exploration but also the expected and already achieved contributions to circular economy on earth. After the greeting words from UNIL’s vice rector “Research and international relations” Prof. Philippe Moreillon, the gathered community shared their views and identified remaining challenges in four consecutive sessions each committed to a main topic in the MELiSSA concept: waste processing, water recycling, air recycling and food production and preparation. Each session was opened by a presentation of the current development and state-of-the-art within the MELiSSA project by one of the 14 MELiSSA partner organizations and followed by a presentation by well-regarded scientists of the respective domain, who gave a broad overview of the various advancements in the respective field. In the following presentations the audience gained insight in the associated research conducted at universities and industry from 14 European countries. During some coffee breaks not only was it possible for the participants to enjoy the magnificent view of the alps but also to catch a glimpse of the work of young academics: 19 posters, mainly provided by MELiSSA PhD-students, could be discovered with topics ranging from hands-on microbiological work to computational modelling of life-support processes. The workshop also afforded the opportunity for the MELiSSA PhD-students to connect with each other and thus strengthen the exchange and the European spirit within MELiSSA. Two more sessions, on chemical and microbial safety and system tools respectively, followed on Thursday morning. The workshop finished on prospecting outlooks and recent accomplishments on technology transfer to terrestrial applications, where MELiSSA technologies advance the circular economy approach in diverse fields, thus contributing to global sustainability. Dr Marc Heppener, head of Science Department in the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration at ESA, concluded the eventful workshop with the request to the gathered community to steadily tackle the identified challenges in order to push the borders of human space exploration and global sustainability further.
For interested readers the book of abstracts, the poster presentations and the presentation slides of the talks can be downloaded here.