ognizant Communication Corporation

LIFE SUPPORT & BIOSPHERE SCIENCE

ABSTRACTS
VOLUME 8, NUMBER 2

Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 67-70
1069-9422/02 $20.00 + .00
Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.
 
SHORT COMMUNICATION

People Challenges in Biospheric Systems for Long-Term Habitation in Remote Areas, Space Stations, Moon, and Mars Expeditions

John Allen

Biosphere Technologies, a Division of Global Ecotechnics Corp., 7 Silver Hills Road, Santa Fe, NM 87575

People who participate in remote and difficult expeditions, such as the 2-year (1991-1993) Biosphere 2 experiment or a future biospheric system on Mars or other long voyages, will face individual psycho-physiological, social, and cultural value challenges. The individual psycho-physiological vectors include the lure of being a hero/heroine and pushing it to the maximum, concealment of problems with the belief that he/she can overcome the obstacle alone, as well as the difficulty of keeping intact the critical differentiation of the risks associated with the overall expedition as opposed to the experimental objectives. The social challenges occur as a group dynamic context as well as for the individual, resulting in regressions and the need to "act out" one's difficulties. Cultural areas of importance that must be taken into consideration will include esthetic, ethical, cosmological, and epistemological values. The epistemological values must involve the five methods of scientific inquiry for a comprehensive total systems project to succeed fully.

Key words: Biospheric systems; Human challenges; Long-term habitation

Address correspondence to John Allen, Biosphere Technologies, a Division of Global Ecotechnics Corp., 7 Silver Hills Road, Santa Fe, NM 87575. E-mail: biospheres@compuserve.com




Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 71-82
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Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Human Factor Observations of the Biosphere 2, 1991-1993, Closed Life Support Human Experiment and its Application to a Long-Term Manned Mission to Mars

Abigail Alling,1,2,3 Mark Nelson,1,2,3 Sally Silverstone,1,2,3 and Mark Van Thillo1,2,3

1Biosphere Foundation, 2Biosphere Technologies (a Division of Global Ecotechnics Corporation), and 3Institute of Ecotechnics

Human factors are a key component to the success of long-term space missions such as those necessitated by the human exploration of Mars and the development of bioregenerative and eventually self-sufficient life support systems for permanent space outposts. Observations by participants living inside the 1991-1993 Biosphere 2 closed system experiment provide the following insights. (1) Crew members should be involved in the design and construction of their life support systems to gain maximum knowledge about the systems. (2) Individuals living in closed life support systems should expect a process of physiological and psychological adaptation to their new environment. (3) Far from simply being a workplace, the participants in such extended missions will discover the importance of creating a cohesive and satisfying life style. (4) The crew will be dependent on the use of varied crops to create satisfying cuisine, a social life with sufficient outlets of expression such as art and music, and to have down-time from purely task-driven work. (5) The success of the Biosphere 2 first 2-year mission suggests that crews with high cultural diversity, high commitment to task, and work democracy principles for individual responsibility may increase the probability of both mission success and personal satisfaction. (6) Remaining challenges are many, including the need for far more comprehensive real-time modeling and information systems (a "cybersphere") operating to provide real-time data necessary for decision-making in a complex life support system. (7) And, the aim will be to create a noosphere, or sphere of intelligence, where the people and their living systems are in sustainable balance.

Key words: Biosphere 2; Group dynamics; Human factors; Closed system; Manned mission to Mars; Biospherics

Address correspondence to Abigail Alling, 9 Silver Hills Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Tel: (505) 474-7444; Fax: (505) 424-3336; E-mail: alling@pcrf.org
 




Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 83-91
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Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Remote Sensing of Gene Expression in Planta: Transgenic Plants as Monitors of Exogenous Stress Perception in Extraterrestrial Environments

Michael S. Manak, Anna-Lisa Paul, Paul C. Sehnke, and Robert J. Ferl

Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, Horticulture Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690

Transgenic arabidopsis plants containing the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene promoter fused to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene were developed as biological sensors for monitoring physiological responses to unique environments. Plants were monitored in vivo during exposure to hypoxia, high salt, cold, and abcissic acid in experiments designed to characterize the utility and responses of the Adh/GFP biosensors. Plants in the presence of environmental stimuli that induced the Adh promoter responded by expressing GFP, which in turn generated a detectable fluorescent signal. The GFP signal degraded when the inducing stimulus was removed. Digital imaging of the Adh/GFP plants exposed to each of the exogenous stresses demonstrated that the stress-induced gene expression could be followed in real time. The experimental results established the feasibility of using a digital monitoring system for collecting gene expression data in real time from Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System (TAGES) biosensor plants during space exploration experiments.

Key words: Arabidopsis; Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression Systems (TAGES); Green fluorescent proten (GFP); Promoter; Biosensor; Telemetry

Address correspondence to Robert J. Ferl, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, Horticulture Sciences Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0690. Tel: (352) 392-1928, ext. 301; Fax: (352) 392-4072; E-mail: robferl@ufl.edu




Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 93-101
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Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.
 
Plant Adaptation to Low Atmospheric Pressures: Potential Molecular Responses

Robert J. Ferl,1 Andrew C. Schuerger,2 Anna-Lisa Paul,1 William B. Gurley,3 Kenneth Corey,4 and Ray Bucklin5

1Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
2Dynamac Corporation, Mail Code DYN-3, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899
3Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611
4Science Consultant, 32 Highland St., Millers Falls, MA 01003
5Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

There is an increasing realization that it may be impossible to attain Earth normal atmospheric pressures in orbital, lunar, or Martian greenhouses, simply because the construction materials do not exist to meet the extraordinary constraints imposed by balancing high engineering requirements against high lift costs. This equation essentially dictates that NASA have in place the capability to grow plants at reduced atmospheric pressure. Yet current understanding of plant growth at low pressures is limited to just a few experiments and relatively rudimentary assessments of plant vigor and growth. The tools now exist, however, to make rapid progress toward understanding the fundamental nature of plant responses and adaptations to low pressures, and to develop strategies for mitigating detrimental effects by engineering the growth conditions or by engineering the plants themselves. The genomes of rice and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana have recently been sequenced in their entirety, and public sector and commercial DNA chips are becoming available such that thousands of genes can be assayed at once. A fundamental understanding of plant responses and adaptation to low pressures can now be approached and translated into procedures and engineering considerations to enhance plant growth at low atmospheric pressures. In anticipation of such studies, we present here the background arguments supporting these contentions, as well as informed speculation about the kinds of molecular physiological responses that might be expected of plants in low-pressure environments.

Key words: Low pressure; Molecular responses; Mars; Plant growth

Address correspondence to Robert J. Ferl, Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611. Tel: (352) 392-1928; Fax: (352) 392-4072; E-mail: robferl@ufl.edu




Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 103-114
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Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Toward Martian Agriculture: Responses of Plants to Hypobaria

Kenneth A. Corey,1 Daniel J. Barta,2 and Raymond M. Wheeler3

1Interior Sancta, Millers Falls, MA
2NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
3NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The recent surge of interest in human missions to Mars has also generated considerable interest in the responses of plants to hypobaria (reduced atmospheric pressure), particularly among those in the advanced life support community. Potential for in situ resource utilization, challenges in meeting engineering constraints for mass and energy, the prospect of using lightweight plant growth structures on Mars, and the minimal literature on plant responses to low pressure all suggest much needed research in this area. However, the limited literature on hypobaria combined with previous findings on plant responses to atmospheric composition and established principles of mass transfer of gases suggest that some plants will be capable of tolerating and growing at pressures below 20 kPa; and for other species, perhaps as low as 5-10 kPa. In addition, normal and perhaps enhanced growth of many plants will likely occur at reduced partial pressures of oxygen (e.g., 5 kPa). Growth of plants at such low total and partial pressures indicates the feasibility of cultivating plants in lightweight, transparent "greenhouses" on the surface of Mars or in other extraterrestrial or extreme environment locations. There are numerous, accessible terrestrial analogs for moderately low pressure ranges, but not for very low and extremely low atmospheric pressures. Research pertaining to very low pressures has been historically restricted to the use of vacuum chambers. Future research prospects, approaches, and priorities for plant growth experiments at low pressure are considered and discussed as they apply to prospects for Martian agriculture.

Key words: Mars; Advanced life support; Bioregenerative; Reduced pressure; Photosynthesis; Photorespiration; Transpiration

Address correspondence to Ken Corey, 32 Highland St, Millers Falls, MA 01349. Tel: (413) 659-3722; E-mail: kennatto@hotmail.com
 




Life Support & Biosphere Science, Vol. 8, pp. 115-123
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Copyright © 2002 Cognizant Comm. Corp.
Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

Mars Inflatable Greenhouse Analog

Philip D. Sadler1 and Gene A. Giacomelli2

1Sadler Machine Co. Tempe, AZ
2University of Arizona, Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, Tucson, AZ

Light intensities on the Martian surface can possibly support a bioregenerative life support system (BLSS) utilizing natural sunlight for hydroponic crop production, if a suitable controlled environment can be provided. Inflatable clear membrane structures offer low mass, are more easily transported than a rigid structure, and are good candidates for providing a suitable controlled environment for crop production. Cable culture is one hydroponic growing system that can take advantage of the beneficial attributes of the inflatable structure. An analog of a Mars inflatable greenhouse can provide researchers data on issues such as crew time requirements for operation, productivity for BLSS, human factors, and much more at a reasonable cost. This is a description of one such design.

Key words: Mars greenhouse; Inflatable structure; Mars hydroponics; Bioregenerative life support

Address correspondence to Philip D. Sadler, Sadler Machine Co., 416 W. 14th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281. Tel: (480) 921-1957; E-mail: Sadlermachineco@aol.com