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Project phasesPhase 1Phase 2Phase 3Phase 4Phase 5
Publications & EducationPublications and Education
OrganisationThe MELiSSA organisation
MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) has been conceived as a micro-organisms and higher plants based ecosystem intended as a tool to gain understanding of the behaviour of artificial ecosystems, and for the development of the technology for a future regenerative life support system for long term manned space missions - for example: a lunar base or a mission to Mars.
The collaboration was established through a Memorandum of Understanding and is managed by ESA. It involves several independent organisations: University of Ghent (B), EPAS (B), University of Clermont Ferrand (F), SCK (B), SHERPA Engineering (F), VITO (B), University Autonoma of Barcelona (E) and University of Guelph (CDN). It is co-funded by ESA, the MELiSSA partners, the Belgium (SPPS), Spanish (CDTI) and Canadian (CRESTech, CSA) authorities. Contributions for specific studies have also been received from the authorities in Ireland and The Netherlands.
The driving element of MELiSSA is the recovering of food, water and oxygen from waste (faeces, urine), carbon dioxide and minerals (MERGEAY 1988). Based on the principle of an "aquatic" ecosystem, MELiSSA is comprised of 5 compartments colonised respectively by thermophilic anoxygenic bacteria, photohererotrophic bacteria, nitrifying bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, higher plants, and the crew.
Unwanted waste products and air pollutants are processed using the natural function of plants which in turn provide food as well as contributing to water purification and generation of oxygen for air revitalization. Many other important benefits are being examined for related industrial projects.
MELiSSA goes further than other recycling systems used on Mir or the International Space Station, which purify water and recycle exhaled carbon dioxide but do not attempt to recycle organic waste for food production.
Last update: 19 November 2007
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In depth The MELiSSA projectThe MELiSSA organisationThe MELiSSA compartmentsThe MELiSSA conceptThe MELiSSA concept 2DThe MELiSSA loop
More information MELiSSA bibliography