Let’s take a few moments to think about algae. The green slimy stuff that accumulates on the surface of lakes is Earth’s unsung hero, responsible for producing at least half of the oxygen we breathe today.
One of the biggest challenges in preparing for long-term human spaceflight is finding a way of providing the essential elements of survival – food, waste removal, radiation protection, water and, yep, oxygen. If you are planning on spending years on a spaceship, you can’t bring everything you need with you. You’ll need to grow it yourself.
There are various solutions to each individual need, but now an emerging line of research suggests algae could be the key to cracking long-term space travel. “My group believes that it could be possible to address almost all of the astronaut’s metabolic needs with one system of algae” says Emily Matula, from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Read more on Wired UK