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Res Microbiol. 2006 Jan-Feb;157(1):77-86. Epub 2005 Dec 9.

Microbial ecology of the closed artificial ecosystem MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative): reinventing and compartmentalizing the Earth's food and oxygen regeneration system for long-haul space exploration missions.

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Laboratory of Radiobiology and Microbiology, Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK-CEN), Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium.


MELiSSA is a bioregenerative life support system designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the complete recycling of gas, liquid and solid wastes during long distance space exploration. The system uses the combined activity of different living organisms: microbial cultures in bioreactors, a plant compartment and a human crew. In this minireview, the development of a short-cut ecological system for the biotransformation of organic waste is discussed from a microorganism's perspective. The artificial ecological model--still in full development--that is inspired by Earth's own geomicrobiological ecosystem serves as an ideal study object on microbial ecology and will become an indispensable travel companion in manned space exploration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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