During their months in isolation the Concordia crew will be using recycled water processed from a unit developed with the polar institutes IPEV and PNRA and based on knowledge gained by ESA’s MELiSSA project. The project is a great of example of cooperation between Concordia and ESA. ESA’s Brigitte Lamaze explains all:
Installation. Credits: ESA
MELiSSA has been working for over 20 years to create self-sustaining eco-systems to support life indefinitely in a closed environment. Water processing, whereby all water is captured and purified to be consumed again, is part of the technologies needed to achieve this goal.
In an average day a human being or astronaut will, metabolically, consume about 1 kg of oxygen, 1 kg of food and 3 kg of water, so water recycling is an important aspect for planning long-term expeditions. The more we recycle, less consumables are need to be transported on a mission, be it to the International Space Station or Concordia, cutting costs and freeing transport for scientific experiments and equipment.
First we need to look a bit closer at waste water. We distinguish between three types of waste water: ‘grey water’ is runoff from washing such as when taking a shower or ...