Colla et al - Agrobiology and new technologies for Bioregenerative Systems in Space exploration: constraints, perspectives and the Italian research contribute

Giuseppe Colla1, Mariateresa Cardarelli1, Veronica De Micco2, Giovanna Aronne2, Raimondo Fortezza3 e Stefania De Pascale4*
1 Dipartimento di Geologia e Ingegneria Meccanica, Naturalistica e Idraulica per il Territorio, Università della Tuscia, via S.C. De Lellis snc, 01100 Viterbo
2 Dipartimento di Arboricoltura, Botanica e Patologia Vegetale, Università di Napoli Federico II, via Università 100, 80055 Portici (NA)
3 Telespazio - PSC Programmi Scientifici, via Gianturco 31, 80127 Napoli
4 Dipartimento di Ingegneria Agraria e Agronomia del Territorio, Università di Napoli Federico II, via Università 100, 80055 portici (NA)

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Key words: altered gravity, bioregenerative systems, hydroponics, ionizing radiation, plant evolution, Space environment.

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Abstract

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Future Space stations and Space habitats/ outposts should be designed as self-sufficient ecological closed or semi-closed systems to reduce the dependence from Earth and limit the number of transportation flights. Higher plants play a fundamental role in such as system providing fresh food to the crew and contributing to the air regeneration. The realization of bioregenerative systems based on plant growth is an ambitious and complex issue since it requires the development of new technologies and the understanding of the effects of space factors on biological systems and on chemical and physical processes. The Italian Space Agency have funded many projects aimed both to understand the effect of space factors on the development of vegetal systems and to develop new technologies for the realization of bioregenerative systems. Research activities have regarded the production of sprouts as well as various aspects of plant growth and reproduction. Two main objectives have been pursued, namely the integration of crew diet with fresh food produced on-board and the understanding of specific biological phenomena. A specific subject regarded the study of pollen biology for its fundamental role in the completion of the seedto- seed cycle and in the gametophytic selection. The research activities were carried out on the ground under simulated microgravity and/or in the International Space Station. Recently a new program aimed to the development of know-how and advanced technologies for human life support in Space has also been introduced. Results obtained until now open the way for the definition of bioregenerative systems for the support of human life in Space.

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