by Acad. Iosif GITELZON, RAS adviser; RAS Corresponding Member Andrei DEGERMENDZHI, director of the Biophysics Institute (RAS Siberian Branch, Krasnoyarsk); Alexander TIKHOMIROV, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), laboratory head of the Krasnoyarsk Biophysics Institute, executive director of the International Center on Closed Systems
The Biophysics Institute (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences) has developed a unique biotechnological system of life support, BIOS-3. Experiments have shown that a crew of two or three confined within it for 3 to 6 months can satisfy its needs in water and air to 100 percent, and to more than 50 percent in food thanks to a closed system of life support. Similar systems built in other countries cannot boast of a high result like that so far. At present BIOS-3 is being upgraded in keeping with international standards. It will be used for longtime experiments imitating turnover processes to enable man's autonomous survival in lunar and Martian missions.
CLOSED ECOSYSTEM: WHAT IS IT?
Closed ecological systems (CES) provide for a specific mode of biogenic turnover, namely substances consumed at a definite rate by some elements of such systems are regenerated at the same mean rate by other elements from the end products to the original state for a repeat use in the same biological cycles.
The biosphere of the earth is the most striking natural CES vital for survival. In the ideal case such systems can endure infinitely long.
Artificial CES designers seek to realize a turnover of mass-exchange processes with a minimal amount of waste, or substances accumulated within as an extra ballast. Two types of elements-the synthesizers and the destructors--are needed for that. The former are based on photosynthesis for the most part. Therefore they are called phototrophic, coming either from lower plants (microalgae as a rule) or from higher plants. The destructors oxidize substances obtained through photos ... Read more