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Life Supporting Systems in Space
Transcript of Life Supporting Systems in Space
It is impossible to build a large space station in only one trip to the intended planet. The building would have to be transported in pieces and gradually assembled on the actual location. The design of the structure must accomodate the harsh outside environment. It must be insulated and tightly sealed. Materials like titanium, kevlar, high grade steel, and ceramic fabric should be used, as the construction materials must be lightweight, but protective against harmful space debris, whether it is dust or large meteoroids. An automatic latching system can ensure an air-tight seal throughout the building, and electromagnetic shielding could protect occupants against radiation. With advanced technology, resources from the actual planet could potentially be used to help assemble the space station.
Life Support System - what and where?
What human needs must be considered?
When venturing into space, both physical and psychological needs must be addressed. Water, nutrition, living space, heat, pressure, gravity, and weather are some elements that must be taken into account, as well as a subject's emotional and personal stability and well-being.
Is Saturn habitable?
-The diameter of Saturn is about 120,536 km, roughly 9.5 times bigger than the diameter of the Earth
-Saturn is approximately 9-10 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Sun
-The average temperature on Saturn is -178° C, but can increase up to 57° C. Saturn's core temperature is around 11,700° C
-The rotation period of Saturn is 10.2 Earth hours, and its orbital period is about 29.5 Earth years
-Saturn has 62 moons with confirmed orbits, although only 53 of them have been officially named
-Saturn's composition is mainly hydrogen and helium, but it is also composed of ammonia, methane, and water ice
-It is the sixth planet from the Sun
-The planet gives up more energy than it actually receives because of the gravitational compression
-Least dense planet in the solar system
-Its magnetic field is slightly weaker than Earth's
Life Supporting Systems in Space
Even with incredibly advanced technology, actually setting foot on Saturn would be an extremely difficult, if not impossible feat. As it is a gaseous planet, Saturn does not actually have a solid surface - if an astronaut attempted to walk on it, they would be sucked towards the core of the planet and eventually crushed by the extreme heat and pressure.
However, some of Saturn's moons have conditions that could be suitable for human life. Two of the major moons, Titan and Enceladus, are considered to be some of the least hostile places in the solar system.
Our life support system will be a research station situated on the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. It will consist of a bio-dome, a living space, and an observatory where Saturn can be studied and data can be drawn.
Oxygen and Air Quality
There are multiple ways oxygen can be produced in space. For example:
-A process that uses an electrical current to produce a non-spontaneous chemical reaction. To produce oxygen, electrolysis would be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
Potassium Perchlorate Canisters
- A chemical oxygen generator that contains a mix of chemicals, usually sodium chlorate and iron powder. When ignited, these 'candles' produce sodium chloride, iron oxide, and oxygen. The canisters used on the International Space Station burn long enough for 24 hour's worth of oxygen for one crew member.
Pressurized Oxygen Tanks
-These tanks, also known as NORS (Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System) are pressurized tanks that can provide the station with an atmosphere similar to Earth's as well as provide astronauts with pure oxygen.
-Plants that produce oxygen can be kept in a bio-dome and used as a natural resource.
The human body naturally produces small amounts of chemicals like ammonia and acetone. A accumulation of these chemicals, as well as others produced by other functions in the space station can be potentially harmful to occupants.To maintain a healthy air quality in the research station, charcoal filters can be used to remove these harmful substances.
Water and Gravity
When in space, resources are very limited. Therefore, it is critical that an essential substance like water is used sparingly, and reused as much as possible. Water that is lost through exhalation, sweating, and other bodily functions can be condensed, filtered, and reused. Water purification machines are also, for this reason, important. Most function by running the water through multi-filtration beds where organic and inorganic impurities are removed, then depositing the water into a catalytic oxygen reactor, where any volatile organic compounds are disposed of and all bacteria and viruses are killed. Lost water can also be replenished by a system with fuel cells that combines hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and produce water.
Bringing a large water supply to a distant planet can be a challenge. Fortunately, Enceladus has a liquid ocean of water directly beneath its thin crust. By using some kind of drilling equipment, this life-giving water could potentially be accessed.
The gravity on Enceladus is very small, about 1% of Earth's (0.113m/s², compared to 9.807m/s²). By utilizing the principle of centripetal force, a simulation of Earth's gravity levels could be created. Spinning a habitation space anchored on a stationary base would allow occupants to move normally.
Energy Source and Temperatures
The fissures in Enceladus' surface at its south pole, commonly known as 'tiger stripes', produce approximately 15.8 gigawatts of heat-generated power. By situating the base near these fissures, it is possible to tap into the heat as a natural source of energy to power the space station and its functions. Hydrogen produced from electrolysis of water can also be used.
The temperature on Enceladus averages -201° C. However, every device used in the station would give off heat, and as it is so well insulated, the heat has nowhere to go. A liquid-based heating and cooling system similar to that on the ISS would most likely be the best way to maintain habitable temperatures in the space station.
Food and Psychological Needs
A human being in space must still have a adequate diet that provides them with all the nutrients they need to function. The average portion for a person under reasonable environmental stress and a heavy workload is about 3000 calories per day. Typically, astronauts bring freeze-dried food with them from Earth and ration that food until it can be restocked. Another way of providing food is with the plants grown in the bio-dome. This would give the occupants a food source that can continually be replenished without having to come from Earth.
Being isolated for an indefinite amount of time has a substantial effect on the well-being of most people. Astronauts are put through a detailed and thorough screening process before being chosen for the job to best pick people who are suited for being isolated in space. Clinical mental disorders and performance under stress are factors that are looked at when candidates are being tested. Qualities like reliability, social skills, and resiliency are sought after. When astronauts are actually in space, opportunities for things like regular exercise, relaxation, privacy and interaction as desired, learning and information sharing, stable sound levels, sensory variability, maintaining personal comfort, and connection to the natural environment are presented to ensure stable mental health for each occupant.
Atmosphere and Waste Management
A human being requires an atmosphere of adequate pressure and composition to remain alive. It must contain a partial pressure of oxygen for the alveoli in the lungs for healthy respiration, but it must also be low enough to ensure no losses in blood cell mass. An average of 9 kPa (kilopascals, a unit of measurement for pressure) is appropriate for a human. The presence of an inert gas in the astronauts living space is preferable, and as up to 80% of the Earth's own atmosphere is nitrogen, it is a logical and safe choice. The NORS (Nitrogen/Oxygen Recharge System) previously mentioned is a system that can ensure a safe atmosphere in the space station.
In space, to dispose of waste, astronauts are able to use flushing toilets, but rather than flushing with water, they flush with air . The air draws waste away from the body and deposits it in a holding tank. Liquid waste is kept in a storage tank and periodically dumped overboard, where it evaporates. Solid waste goes into a container that is exposed to a the atmosphere outside, where it is completely dried out. It is then transported back to Earth and disposed of. To deal with weightlessness, foot and leg restraints are used.
Safiya, Greer, & Sophie 9-34
To recapitulate, for our life-support system, we have designed a space station situated on one of Saturn's moons, that functions according to the systems described in previous slides. It will have adequate elements to support human needs and is particularily innovative as a bio-dome that can sustain essential human functions in multiple ways is included in the design. The atmosphere, temperature, gravity, and other factors have been considered and countered. This hypothetical space station is based off of the ISS (International Space Station), which currently exists, multiple theories and proposals about colonization in space that are expected to be explored and implemented in the future, and our own ideas. When certain obstacles like navigating the solar system and carrying larger payloads are solved, space colonization and further exploration is entirely possible, as is the idea of a space station similar to our design.
As space colonization becomes increasingly relevant, it is important that new ideas are presented to ensure the best possible design is devised.