A newly created Space Colony Research Center led by Japan's first female astronaut brings cutting-edge technology to one of humanity's greatest questions: Can we live in space?
Hidden in Tokyo High-Tech Laboratories The University of Science, a team of 30 researchers led by Chiaki Mukai, is researching new ways to keep people alive on a potential lunar or Martian colony.
"It's in our nature to explore, the earth is too small for us, do not you think?" asked Mukai, a graceful and energetic 66-year-old who spent more than 500 hours in outer space on two different missions.
Human space exploration begins a new era, Mukai said, with commercial projects such as SpaceX and US President Elon Musk Donald Trump's promise to go beyond the Moon and toward Mars. Billionaire entrepreneur Musk has great visions for private space exploration, including sending tourists into orbit around the moon and the colonization of Mars.
In December, Trump commissioned the US space agency NASA to build a lunar base as a first step in a mission to Mars: "It's very realistic to build a colony on the moon by 2030," Mukai said People need to think outside the International Space Station, which they call a "campsite" ̵
One of her team's innovations is a unique food production system that uses liquid plasma by passing high voltage electricity through a saline solution. This reduces the harmful algae that are normally produced when growing water, and experiments simulating conditions in space have shown that potatoes can be bred quickly and efficiently with this system.
The Space Colony Research Center has also developed a power generation system with tiny thermoelectric sensors the size of an iPod Nano that can be connected to a potential colony. The colony should be kept at comfortable room temperatures, but outdoors it would fluctuate between 130 degrees Celsius during the day and -230 degrees Celsius at night.
The technology uses the difference in temperature – heat flow – between inside and outside to generate enough electricity to "supply a whole space colony," said Tsutomu Lida, responsible for the project.
"The same device can be used day or night, there are no moving parts, so no maintenance is required," said Lida. Another team is working on the early detection and detection of space debris. More than 29,000 pieces measuring at least 10 centimeters (4 inches) above Earth orbit could endanger potential space colonists.
Mukai, who established the center as part of the Tokyo University of Science earlier this year, said many of the technologies they work on find application here on Earth.
"We are not just developing the technology For a lunar base, but as a spin-off, we will be able to solve many of the problems we need to solve on Earth," she said. For example, she said that hydroponic technology – growing non-food crops – could be valuable in sub-Saharan African countries, which lack natural resources and minerals. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…=view&id=167 Mukai said that she was "safe", that she would see a fully functioning system Englisch: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…=view&id=167 At the age of 77 Orbit went, her ex – colleague and US astronaut John Glenn said that the former cardiac surgeon, with her medical expertise and extraterrestrial experiences, said she could be very useful on future commercial space tourism flights.
"My dream is to get a job as a flight attendant in a commercial space flight so I can help get people to the moon," she said, laughing.