Recently in the Life Support Category

Fresh food grown in the microgravity environment of space officially is on the menu for the first time for NASA astronauts on the International Space Station.

"NASA engineer Dan Dietrich and a team of scientists at Glenn developed the Portable Unit for Metabolic Analysis (PUMA) to monitor the oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production rates of astronauts exercising during long missions. The portable unit was designed to give the crew the ability to move around the spacecraft without being tethered to a large immovable unit. PUMA measures six components to evaluate metabolic function: oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressure, volume flow rate, heart rate, and gas pressure and temperature. From those measurements, PUMA can compute the oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide output and minute ventilation (average expired gas flow rate). A small, embedded computer takes readings of each sensor and relays the data wirelessly to a remote computer via Bluetooth." More

"A technology designed for use by astronauts in the hazardous environment of space has found a lifesaving use in another dangerous occupation, but this time on Earth, or rather under it: coal mining. Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., is providing the air revitalization system it matured under a NASA Space Act Agreement to Mine Shield LLC of Lancaster, KY., for use in its underground miner refuge chambers. These air-tight metal chambers are used by miners as lifesaving havens when trapped underground providing air, water, and food until rescued. In 2010, NASA began to invest in the commercial sector's capability to support transport of crew to and from low Earth Orbit. During this initiative through a Space Act Agreement, NASA invested approximately $1.5 million of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 economic stimulus funds in Paragon to mature their air purifying system." More

Growing Veggies in Space

ORBITEC "grows" NASA business with two new awards

"Orbital Technologies Corporation, "ORBITEC," has been awarded two new NASA contracts for engineering support and flight hardware production related to life science activities on the International Space Station. The programs awarded were for ORBITEC to support the development and flight of the "VEGGIE" system and the Advanced Plant Habitat at the NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the space station. VEGGIE, an expandable and deployable vegetable system, was developed by ORBITEC to grow salad crops to supplement prepackaged foods during long stays in space. The primary goal of VEGGIE is to provide flight crews with palatable, nutritious, and safe sources of fresh food with minimal volume and operational resources. Significant, beneficial plant and life science experiments can also be conducted in the VEGGIE system. VEGGIE is designed as a very small module during flight stages and is later "unfolded" for growth operations."

Creating A Moonbase In Manhattan

Imagine An Underground Park In NYC? It Could Become Reality, CBS New York

When most people think of the New York City underground, the subway, rats and bad lighting are among the first things that come to mind. But, how about beautiful spaces with natural sunlight, grass, trees and remarkably good-looking people relaxing in a park-like setting? Well, that's exactly what pops into the heads of architect James Ramsey and his partner Dan Barasch. The pair want to turn the rundown, graffiti-covered trolley terminal under Delancey Street into an underground park ... While the plan may seem far-fetched to some, Ramsey and Barasch appear to be the right men for the job. Their resumes include words like "NASA," "Yale," "Cornell" and "Google."

Clean Water in Space - and on Earth

Iowa State chemists help astronauts make sure their drinking water is clean

"Lipert said the testing technology can also be a useful tool in many earthbound applications, including forensics tests for drugs, environmental tests for heavy metals and water quality tests for pesticides or herbicides. "This is a very flexible platform," he said. "You just have to work out the chemistry for each substance you're analyzing."

Think about this: There are a myriad of applications on Earth for technologies such as this. Clean, safe, drinking water is an issue for over a billion people. Imagine a cheap version of this technology applied to water quality issues in developing and third world nations.

Forward Osmosis Experiments in Microgravity

QinetiQ North America and NASA Advance Space Travel with First Forward Osmosis Experiments in Microgravity

"QinetiQ North America announced today the results of another successful experiment completed on board the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) in July 2011. The experiment, the first of its kind in microgravity, tested the novel application in space of a technology modeled on a biological process used by cells on Earth to recover water from their environment. Already engineered for use in applications ranging from desalination plants to treating non-potable water for backpackers, forward osmosis is the natural diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane."

DARPA is seeking ideas for an organization, business model and approach appropriate for a self-sustaining investment vehicle in support of the 100 Year StarshipTM Study. The 100 Year StarshipTM Study is a project seeded by DARPA to develop a viable and sustainable model for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel practicable and feasible. The genesis of this study is to foster a rebirth of a sense of wonder among students, academia, industry, researchers and the general population to consider "why not" and to encourage them to tackle whole new classes of research and development related to all the issues surrounding long duration, long distance spaceflight. DARPA contends that the useful, unanticipated consequences of such research will have benefit to the Department of Defense and to NASA, and well as the private and commercial sector.

A closed-loop recycling system is an important component to exploring space. Join host Kathy Kaiser-Holscott from the Central Operation of Resources for Educators and presenter Jay Garland from NASA's Kennedy Space Center for an hour-long, free webcast on Nov. 10, 2010, at 4 p.m. EST. This webcast will focus on the Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge for students in grades 5-8. Learn how to help NASA prepare for future exploration by designing a simulated system to reuse water in space. For more information and to view the webcast, visit If you have any questions about the webcast, please mail them to Renee Elias at

NASA is inviting students in grades 5-8 to participate in the 2nd Waste Limitation Management and Recycling Design Challenge. The challenge uses real-world scenarios that meet science and mathematics content standards. Students can participate in a formal, informal or home-school setting. Teams of up to six students will design a water recycling system for the unique environment of the moon. Teams will then test their system on a simulated wastewater stream. Proposals and results are due Feb. 28, 2011.

The winning teams will be announced in May 2011. The top three teams will receive awards. The first place team will receive an expense-paid trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During the winning team's visit to Kennedy, students will gain firsthand knowledge about NASA's missions, receive behind-the-scenes tours of NASA's launch facilities, and learn about future aerospace and engineering careers. For more information and contest rules, please visit Questions about the challenge should be directed to Jay Garland at

NASA is inviting fifth through eighth grade students to participate in a waste limitation management and recycling design challenge. Participants in the competition will design and test water recycling systems that could be used for future exploration of the moon. The top three teams will receive awards, and the first place team will receive an expense-paid trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Teams of up to six students and one teacher or mentor should submit their proposals and results to NASA for evaluation by Feb. 1, 2010. Schools in the United States and its territories, science museums, science centers and home school groups may host teams.