Life Support Systems
In the early days of space exploration, propulsion was the absolute driver. The great challenge was to develop rockets that would be powerful enough to transport humans to their destination at the Moon.
Now, in this second bold step into the Red Planet, although Mars is still a challenging goal for rocket designers, perhaps the most critical systems have to do with life support.
Current life support systems in spacecraft are physico chemical, that is, supply the crew with its basic necessities with consumable generated through physical and chemical processes. This is good enough for short duration missions, but probably not for extended missions to Mars or other planets.
For many years, scientists have tried to develop another type of system, the so called bioregenerative life support systems, that perform all the basic functions of a life support system based on a natural cycle regenerative process.
These systems incorporate biological components in the synthesis, purification and regeneration of basic life support commodities.
A good example of a bioregenerative system is the Earth itself, where in a large scale the natural equilibrium is preserved.
They are often referred to by the acronym CELSS, which stands for Closed Ecological Life Support System
This system would provide basic and continuous life-support requirements, such as food, drinking water, and breathable atmosphere, by using plant as the central recycling component.
Higher plants in life support system will be utilized in food production, CO2 uptake, and O2 release and, in concert with microbial systems, will support water purification.
A regenerative life support system will provide an enhanced crew environment (i.e., fresh food and the psychological benefits of growing plants).
Life Support System Links